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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71153
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi, I recently had a Merseyrail officer come and film me

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I recently had a Merseyrail officer come and film me resting my foot (in tights, no shoes) on the edge of a seat as I marked my students' work on a train. He said he had recorded me with my foot on the seat and so had to take my details. I removed my foot from the seat and answered his questions honestly. He said his form and film would be sent to a Merseyrail worker who may decide to fine me for having my foot on the seat but that it was unlikely as he had noted that it was my "stocking feet" not shoe that was on the seat.
The carriage was empty apart from me and one other person so I wasn't stopping anybody sit down or damaging anything. However I have received a letter demanding a £50 administrative penalty. It says "Merseyrail operates a zero tolerance policy in regard to these matters and at this stage there is no redress to these proceedings. If you do not accept the reprimand and the administrative penalty, then the matter will be referred to the Magistrates Court and a summons will be issued in due course"
Have I committed a criminal offence? I feel this fine is unfair but, as a teacher, I can't risk the chance of any conviction. What should I do?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
There isn't a specific offence of having your feet on seats but it is normally prosecuted under Railway Bye Law 6 here
They normally rely on 6[4] although it does occur to me that they would have to prove soiling then.
They could drop down on 6[8] which is a bit of a catch all. It does tend to suggest that there needs to be another person who could have their comfort interfered with at the relevant time. It is difficult to tell how that would go. The Public Order Act 1986, of course, just demands the court consider the hypothetical person there present.
I suppose they could rely on 6[2] on the basis that it is offensive. I don't think it could be considered indecent or disorderly even by Magistrates who are generally biased in favour of the prosecution.
On your primary point though, there isn't a specific of feet on seats and so no specific defence of not having shod feet at the relevant time. It is implied in 6[4] that it would have to be in shod feet but no more than that.
The truth is though that nobody can guarantee success in any court. Anything can happen. At the Magistrates in particular there are lots of unfair convictions. It really comes down to how much risk you want to take.
Railway Bye Law offences are not recordable.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks, ***** ***** to see the actual law they're relying on.

Can I just check, if I go to magistrates court and they rule against me, what would happen?

Specifically would I have to pay a higher amount and would I have a conviction that would show up on criminal record checks?

It just leads to a fine whatever happens.
They could award costs against you but that would only be about £300. The financial penalty does increase if you go to court but not really in a sum that is prohibitive.
The risk is that it is a criminal record. It could show on enhanced checking. Often railway bye law offences do not but that is basically because the prosecution authorities are usually train companies rather than BTP and they don't update the police so they cannot add it to PNC.
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