Despite being very reluctant the BBC has finally confirmed what we all knew anyway - detector van/portable detector evidence has never been presented in court.
The revealing Freedom of Information Act response came after the BBC u-turned on their earlier decision to withhold the information under the law enforcement exemptions of the 2000 Act.
In their revised response, issued after an internal review found in our favour, Beeb Kiwi lawyer Dan McGregor says the following:
"I can confirm that TVL has not, to date, used detection evidence in Court.
"You may be interested to understand why this is the situation. Under TVL’s current prosecution process the presentation of detection evidence in court is unnecessary. This is because TVL uses detection evidence when applying for search warrants. If, following service of the warrant an individual is found to be evading payment of the TV Licence, then the evidence obtained via the search warrant is used in court, not the detection evidence.
"It is worth noting that search warrants are only issued at the discretion of a magistrate (or sheriff in Scotland) in accordance with strict legal requirements. Detection evidence would be carefully considered by the magistrate (or sheriff in Scotland) during the warrant application process.
"It does, of course, remain open to TVL to use detection evidence in court whenever it wishes in the future."
Given the fact they haven't used it so far, in the fifty-odd years the shit-scary (not) TV detector van has allegedly been in existence, it's pretty unlikely they'll be changing that habit.
Sadly the BBC's internal reviewer, James Leaton Gray, can't bring himself to admit what everyone reading this knows - the BBC had little option but to respond, given my warning that I would refer their obstruction to the Information Commissioner. If that had happened the Commissioner would have definitely ordered them to disclose the information in full given the huge valid public interest.
The full trail of my request can be found here.
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Edit (2/2/2016): The BBC has inadvertenly let slip the actual TV Licensing detection figures for 2015. As we suspected, they confirm that the use of TV detection is exceptionally rare. It is certainly not widespread or routine. You can read more here.