TV Licensing like to harp on about their massive database of unlicensed addresses, imaginary detection equipment and rarer than hen's teeth search warrants, but nearly all of their prosecutions hinge on a single piece of evidence - the TVL178 Record of Interview form.
An example TVL178 can be viewed in this earlier post.
The law requires that a licence is obtained for those properties where equipment is used to receive television programme services. In simple terms that means you need a licence to watch TV programmes on any channel available to others in the UK at the same time.
Anyone that does not require a TV licence is under no legal obligation to communicate or co-operate with TV Licensing and we strongly advise they remain silent and immediately close the door on any goon that visits.
Should the occupier make the mistake of engaging with a TV Licensing goon, they may find that he/she attempts to caution them and begin to complete a TVL178 form. The form must only be completed when the occupier is under caution otherwise any evidence recorded thereon is worthless.
At the end of the doorstep interview the occupier is asked to sign the completed TVL178 to confirm its accuracy. The occupier does not need to sign the form, but may choose to do so. Suffice to say the form should only be signed once it has been carefully read and understood. We have heard of cases where the occupier has signed the form on the basis of what the goon says it contains rather than what it actually does. As you can imagine, signing an inaccurate form has the potential to cause all sorts of problems for the occupier.
Alarm bells should instantly start ringing if the goon wants to add anything to the form once the occupier has signed it as an accurate record. The occupier will be given a copy of the completed form for their own records, which they should keep safe until it is needed later on.
The completed TVL178 will almost certainly be the pivotal evidence in any TV Licensing prosecution case. As such it should be completed with the highest standard of accuracy and detail, but experience shows that is not always the case. In our experience the average TV Licensing goon is a bit dim, so their TVL178s are often completed with illegible handwriting and contain contradictory evidence that could be easily discredited in court.
Anyone summoned to court should scrutinise the completed TVL178 very carefully. The official copy provided with the summons should be compared to that received at the time of the goon's visit. If there is any doubt about the accuracy or completeness of the information on the form the occupier should contact TV Licensing's prosecution team, highlight the evidential weaknesses, and indicate their willingness to plead not guilty. Quite often TV Licensing will withdraw the case in these circumstances, as they want to avoid the possibility of their evidence being discredited in court.
For further information please download our free ebook, TV Licensing Laid Bare.