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This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

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Thursday, 12 February 2015

TV Licence Review: Consultation Begins

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport today published the terms of reference for the Government's official review into the system of TV licence enforcement.

The Review, led by David Perry QC, has been established to consider whether the sanctions currently in place for those caught receiving TV programmes without a valid TV licence are appropriate and fair, and whether the current regime represents value for money for licence fee payers and taxpayers.

In 2013 in England and Wales 153,354 people were found guilty and, of these, 152,649 were fined for watching or recording live TV without a TV licence. This is not a recordable offence, so those found guilty do not receive a centrally recorded criminal record, but a record is maintained at the court.

In Scotland, the method of enforcement differs from that of England and Wales, and licence fee evasion cases can be disposed of via an out of court fine, avoiding the necessity of a court hearing. Significantly fewer cases are dealt with via the courts, and instead the majority utilise this disposal option offered by the Procurator Fiscal’s Office.

The system in Northern Ireland and the Crown Dependencies is broadly similar to that in England and Wales.

A summary of jurisdictional differences is shown in the table below:

TV licence jurisdictional differences

Today's consultation document outlines six possible options and invites public opinion on each:
  1. Do nothing: Retain the current criminal enforcement system.
  2. Reform the current system: Leave the current offence as it stands but reform the current criminal enforcement system.
  3. Out of court settlement: Retention of the criminal offence, with an option for disposal by way of an out of court settlement.
  4. Fixed monetary penalty: Retention of the criminal offence, with an option for disposal by way of a fixed monetary penalty.
  5. Civil monetary penalty: Decriminalise and enforce via a civil infraction.
  6. Civil debt: Decriminalise and enforce as a civil debt.
Following the consultation period, the views expressed in the consultation will be considered and will inform the final report to Ministers. The Review will report by the end of June 2015 and findings will be presented to Parliament and the BBC Trust.

The Government has made clear its wish to review the current system of TV licence fee enforcement.

The Deregulation Bill 2014-15, which is currently before the House of Lords, seeks to replace the current criminal sanctions with civil monetary penalties instead, thus alleviating the criminal courts of considerable trivial workload.

There is also concern that the current criminal sanctions are disproportionate, on the basis that they are not comparable to the sanctions for the non-payment of utility and service bills.

Unfortunately the Bill's progress stalled last week when the Lords voted for amendments to the TV licence clauses.

You can read the full consultation document here.

The consultation closes on 1st May 2015 and responses can be emailed to: perry.review@culture.gov.uk


Ray Turner said...

A good informative blog posting. Thanks for sharing this information.

Admin said...

Many thanks Ray.

I'm embarrassed to admit that it's a bit cannibalised from the actual consultation document, as I was in such a hurry to get it published.

Fred Bear said...

I can strt to see why the parts about the visiting and prosecution process regarding the Channel Islands were redacted from the Ask Help script. It looks like TVL 'Officers' don't visit Jersey and probably not Guernsey either. It's down to the local police or legal authorities to find information, press charges and prosecute. Without any commission incentives I wonder if they bother?

I note also opposition to the licence fee maybe growing on the Isle of Man:



Fred Bear said...

It appears that I was wrong about visits to the Channel Islands by TVL.

According to http://www.tynwald.org.im/business/pp/Reports/2011-PP-0108.pdf

occasional visits are undertaken although very few people are prosecuted.

It appears that the enforcement regime is harshest in England, where there is evidence of targeting of stay-at-home mothers and people on benefits.

In North Wales, the magistrates appear to be applying the minimum penalties possible under the law.

In Scotland most people caught in TVL's net end up with a £75 fine instead of going to court.

On the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, enforcement is sporadic and there's really little chance of ending up in court at all.

One strong argument against the current licence regime is the unfairness of the enforcement system. The chances of someone watching TV without a licence being subject to any penalty depends very strongly on their gender or whether or not they have a job. In addition, the type of penalty involved depends on where the person lives.