In today's post we respond to an email received from one of our readers.
Matthew is a longstanding reader of the TV Licensing Blog and we are grateful to him for taking the time to get in touch.
Our reader writes:
I have been following the misdeeds of BBC bully boys Capita for many years now and have at times been absolutely disgusted by the way they treat people, especially in the courts.
During my visits to Burton on Trent Magistrates' Court over the last two years or so, to report first-hand the actual goings on in there rather than relying on articles spoon-fed to the local rag (The Burton Mail) on an almost weekly basis, I have seen some utterly vile behaviour by Capita Court Presenters.
Of note is the way Capita, with only one exception I recorded (more of that in a minute), always claimed the full prosecution costs from the defendants, regardless of their social standing, financial position or mental health issues. I've seen the Magistrates' themselves be lenient in handing down fines to vulnerable people. One particular case was of a lady with learning difficulties who was given a condition discharge instead of a fine. What I saw next truly sickened me. Instead of Capita waiving or reducing their prosecution costs in that case, they still claimed the full amount of £90 as it was a year or so ago.
One particularly nasty case I saw was a lady charged with intentionally obstructing the execution of a search warrant after deploying WOIRA. The lady did not have a TV set in the house, just as Mr Danny Allen didn't, so having thought she had done the right thing to keep Capita's goons at bay she used the WOIRA tactic. As we know, Capita is somewhat fond of victimising people who don't play ball and this is exactly what happened in this case.
Three court hearings, with the defendant in tears at each one, resulted in a relatively small fine due to the financial circumstances. Amazingly, Capita reduced their prosecution costs in the case from £300 to £100. I believe this was done because they knew I would be there reporting on the case and they wanted to paint a more attractive picture of themselves than normal. Outside the court, with the case closed, the Burton Mail were there taking photographs of the clearly distressed defendant for publication in the rag. I asked he photographer to take the lady's feelings into account and to stop distressing her any further. His reply was "I'm just doing my job". Vile behaviour, but that was nothing compared to what the Capita Prosecutor did next.
I attempted to interview her on the street but she shoved her hand in front of the camera in an effort to stop me. I asked a couple of questions and the Prosecutor's response was to play the victim herself. After literally sprinting to her car, whilst claiming she had a condition called Fibromyalgia, she went on to produce a disabled parking badge along with various threats towards me how she was going 'to get me', prosecute me and call police to deal with me. She told me I should be ashamed of myself for not having a TV licence and that she has one even though she doesn't need one! It was easily the most bizarre behaviour I'd seen from someone in such a position. Oh, and all this was after she claimed to have nothing to do with Capita!
Magistrates' Courts are open to the public in order for justice to be seen to be done (so they say). I strongly suggest a visit or two so you can see for yourself how much 'justice' is really administered at these hearings when up to 80 people in a single afternoon earning multiples of thousands of pounds for Capita and the Ministry of Justice without a single care for peoples' disabilities and financial status.
PS. TV Licensing goons don't visit me any more for some bizarre reason :)
TV Licensing Blog replies:
Thank you very much for your email and continued patronage of the TV Licensing Blog.
I heartily endorse every comment you have made and look forward to sharing your comments with my readers.
Please be sure to keep your camera ready by the door just in case TV Licensing does grow a backbone and visit your property again.
If you have any questions you would like answered on the TV Licensing Blog, please email us with the words "Reader Letter" in the subject line. Our email address is in the sidebar. As mentioned on the About page, we can't guarantee to respond to every email but will try our best.