When an individual is stopped by a TFL ticket inspector for fare evasion, they may be lucky enough to be offered an on-the-spot fine. There are times when the inspector decides against offering a fine. Instead you will receive a ‘TFL information request letter’, which TFL call a ‘Verification Letter’.
The Inspector will usually issue these when they have deemed the offence as too serious for a penalty fare. This is frequently the case when fare evasion has occurred with the misuse of high value travel cards, including zip cards, monthly pre-paid tickets, or Freedom Passes. In our experience, the most common cause for a verification letter is when someone has misused a Freedom Pass or another type of discounted oyster card. Misuse of a Freedom Pass is specifically cited in the TFL policy guidance as a reason for a prosecution.
Once the Inspector has referred the matter to the Prosecution’s Unit, the ‘Request for Information’ letter is sent out. You can see an example of one of these letters in the images below, and a full transcript can be found at the end of this page.
If you have received a verification letter from TfL in connection to an allegation please contact our team for proactive representation. Acting quickly increases the chances of avoiding prosecution and a criminal record.
How do I respond to the TFL letter?
Your response to TFL has legal ramifications and plays a critical role in deciding what happens next.
TFL allow 10 days for you to provide a response. The letter asks you to confirm the name and address of the ‘person being reported’ (i.e. you), as well as your date of birth and email address.
The critical section is where the letter asks ‘if you deny committing the offence, please explain why’. And ‘if you accept committing an offence please provide any exceptional reasons…’
The fare evasion bye law, which TfL prosecute is a ‘strict liability’ offence. This means that TFL do not have to proof that you were dishonest or you intentionally evaded the fare.
How can a solicitor help with an information request letter?
A TFL fare evasion solicitor can intervene at this stage by writing a detailed letter of representation on your behalf, arguing that a prosecution would be disproportionate and not in the public interest.
The letter would ask that the matter is resolved by TFL issuing a Warning Letter (rather than a prosecution). TFL no longer settles cases by accepting offers to pay their administrative fees (contrary to the misleading information on many other law firms websites).
TFL look for specific ‘mitigation’ factors in deciding whether to prosecute or not. The presence of these make it more likely that they will be persuaded to issue the Warning Letter. At Reeds we tailor our representations accordingly. We have carefully considered TFL’s own policies and guidance on when they decide to prosecute and use this to better represent our client’s (i.e. your) case and best interests.
We would meet with you for a conference and take detailed instructions about your personal circumstances and plans for the future. If possible, we would seek to obtain supporting documents on your behalf to increase your chances of success.
We often see clients who have panicked upon speaking to the Inspector and have given misinformation to various questions. In our experience, this is a point which needs to be carefully addressed in any letter.
What are my chances of success?
While we can never guarantee that TFL will agree to settle your matter out of court, we can promise to put you in the best possible position. Every case is different so please contact us if you would like specific advice with regard to the chances of success for your case.
We have an extremely high success rate in avoiding a prosecution.
We have perfected our approach for many years and as our testimonials show, we have consistently achieved excellent results.
Example of Verification Letter
Transport for London
Compliance, Policing, Operations and Security
9G4 Palestra, 197 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NJ
On [DATE] you were reported to Transport for London (TfL) for an offence(s) on the TfL Public Transport Network. The facts of this incident are being considered and I must advise you that legal proceedings may be taken against you in accordance with Transport of London’s prosecution policy.
In order for TfL to deal with this case correctly, please return the information requested on the reverse of this letter, by e-mail to IAP@tfl.gov.uk within 10 days, including the case number stated above. Alternatively, you can send the letter by post.
You do not have to reply to this letter but it may harm your defence if you do not mention something now which you may later rely on in court. Anything you do provide in writing my be used in evidence.
Failure to respond to this letter may result in the matter being progressed by Transport for London without further notification.
If you require further information please go to; https://tfl.gov.uk/fares/prosecutions and see the Revenue Enforcement and Prosecution Policy.
Transport for London, its subsidiaries and service providers, will use your personal information for the purposes of administering enforcement activity, including prosecutions, penalty fares, responding to appeals, and fraud prevention. We may also share your personal information with London Councils, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service, relevant Tran Operating Companies, Credit Reference Agencies, Debt Collection Agencies and Court appointed Bailiffs for these purposes. Your personal information will be properly safeguarded and processed in accordance with the requirements of privacy and data protection legislation. In certain circumstances, TfL may also disclose your personal information to the police and other law enforcement agencies for the purpose of prevention or detection of crime. Further information on how we use your data can be found at www.tfl.gov.uk/privacy.
Case No. [Number] PLEASE COMPLETE THIS SECTION IN BLOCK CAPITALS
Last Name of person reported ____________
First Names ____________
Date of Birth ____________
UK Address ____________
Telephone Number ____________
Email Address ____________
- If you deny committing an offence, please explain why and provide any available evidence.
- If you accept committing an offence, please provide any exceptional reasons including pre-existing medical conditions that you may feel are relevant and evidence to support this, as to why TfL should not proceed with a prosecution
- If this is in relation to a ticket irregularity, then if you were unable to produce a pass because you did not have it with you or if your pass was withdrawn because you were unable to produce a valid photocard to accompany it, please enclose a photocopy of the pass/photocard with your reply.