The BBC really doesn't want you to know that the occupiers of more than 16,000 properties have withdrawn TV Licensing's implied rights of access.
This means that TV Licensing is legally forbidden from visiting those properties during the course of its routine enquiries.
According to a BBC email (see page 4 of document) recently released to Freedom of Information campaigner Doug Paulley, the Corporation's response to this information becoming public knowledge would be to say "TV Licensing uses detection on those addresses".
Sadly for the BBC, we know that statement is total bullshit too, as TV Licensing's use of detection is virtually unheard of and very tightly regulated. Still, the BBC are never ones to let the truth stand in the way of a good story.
Despite the copious amount of pseudo-legal bullshit it churns out, TV Licensing has no special rights to visit any property within the UK. It relies on an ancient common law right of access, which assumes that occupiers expect salespeople and the like to come onto the property and peddle their wares at the front door.
WOIRA can only be used by the occupiers of properties in England and Wales. The laws of trespass in Scotland are a slightly more relaxed affair, so TV Licensing will not accept WOIRA for properties north of the border.
WOIRA is occasionally mentioned as an anti-TV Licensing strategy, but the general consensus is that it is risky for the following reasons:
- The presence of WOIRA draws TV Licensing's attention to the fact that the occupier is a "clued up opponent" that may be worthy of "special attention".
- The presence of WOIRA will strengthen TV Licensing's case in the extremely unlikely event that it attempts to obtain a search warrant for the property. That said a warrant can only be granted when very specific conditions are met (see our earlier post). If TV Licensing was somehow able to obtain a search warrant (by fair means or foul), then that would override the occupier's WOIRA instruction.
- TV Licensing, despite its pretence to the contrary, is known to ignore WOIRA when it suits.
Despite the risks, some people may wish to explore the option of WOIRA in more detail. To those people we signpost our earlier post on the subject, which includes a link to a WOIRA template letter than can be used.
Our preferred route in dealing with TV Licensing is no contact. Anyone that doesn't legally need a TV licence is under no legal obligation at all to TV Licensing. People in that situation are advised to totally ignore TV Licensing. Simply place TV Licensing letters in the bin and close the door on any TV Licensing pariahs that visit.
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