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Wednesday 30 July 2014

Bizarre TV Licensing Search Warrant Failure

TV Licensing goon Phillip Carvill trying to work the TV set.

Two TV Licensing employees and two police officers executed a search warrant in the Dartford area of Kent at around 8 am this morning.

The video footage, shared by the Active Resistance to the TV Licence Facebook page, is the most bizarre search warrant episode we have seen to date. It's bizarre in the sense that the occupier acted reasonably throughout, yet the TV Licensing goons, who were clearly frustrated at having found no evidence whatsoever of unlicensed TV reception, still indicate a desire to "get him" on trumped-up obstruction charges.

Clipboard-wielding apprentice goon Alfred Gjergji.

Before going any further, let us reassure readers that TV Licensing search warrants are exceptionally rare (even more so in Scotland). The occupiers of legally-licence-free properties should not be overly concerned about the threat of being searched, as TV Licensing will never (theoretically) be able to obtain the evidence needed for a warrant.

The entire episode is transcribed below:
[The goons and police are on the doorstep at this point]

Goon 1 (Phillip Carvill): [Inaudible] mucking around now.

Occupier: I'm not mucking about at all.

Police 1 (with beard): Just listen to these gentlemen. They are here to conduct a warrant on behalf of the TV licence.

Occupier: Is that signed by a legal Justice?

Goon 1: Yeah, it's all legal. Do you want to check it? [offers occupier the paperwork]

Occupier: Okay. Erm, firstly I don't watch live TV broadcasts.

Goon 1: Can we come in and check then?

Police 1: Sir, just allow them to do their job. They're acting on behalf of a warrant that's been issued.

Goon 1: Here's our ID [offers ID card]

Goon 1: That's mine.

Occupier: Phillip Carvill?

Goon 1: Here's my colleague's [Goon 1 sways towards occupier, as if to fully enter property]

Occupier: Hold on. Excuse me officer.

Goon 2 (Alfred Gjergji): [Offers ID card] Alfred Gjergji.

Occupier: Okay, fine [opens door wide and allows entry]

Goon 1: Here's your copy by the way [offers paperwork to occupier as he enters property]

Goon 1: Where's the TV apparatus?

Occupier: The TV apparatus is here [gesturing towards open living room door]

Goon 1: Okay [entering living room and approaching TV set mounted on wall]

Occupier: As stated, I do not watch live TV broadcasts and as such I do not require a TV licence.

Goon 2: Can you just switch it on for me, can you? [gesturing towards TV set]

Occupier: No. There's nowhere on your warrant that says I have to switch it on. If you want to examine the apparatus that's up to you.

Goon 1: You'll not turn it on for us?

Occupier: No.

Goon 1: You're refusing to turn it on? [To Goon 2] Okay, fill out that form. We'll go through it.

Occupier: To turn it on to what? There's no TV signal.

Goon 1: My colleague has to complete the form and then if you could answer his questions as accurately as possible.

Goon 2: Can I get your first name please?

Occupier: No.

Goon 1: You're refusing your first name? [gesturing towards camera] I don't know why you're doing that.

Occupier: It's for my own protection. You've turned up with two officers that are armed. I'm a law abiding citizen.

Police 1: We're here to prevent a breach of the peace sir.

Goon 1: What's your surname?

Occupier: I'm not at liberty to say.

Goon 2: [Reads out address]. Can I just confirm your postcode with you please?

Occupier: I don't know it off the top of my head.

Goon 1: [To Goon 2] Have we got a postcode?

Goon 2: Yes [reads out postcode]. Have you got a licence for the television?

Occupier: I don't need a licence. I do not watch live broadcasts.

Goon 1: Put your telly on for me [gestures towards TV set]

Occupier: Excuse me. Don't get agitated with me in my home.

Goon 1: Not at all [smiling]

Occupier: The officers are here to prevent a breach of the peace. I'm the householder, a law abiding citizen. I've committed no offence. I do not watch live broadcasts. I do not require a TV licence.

Goon 1: If you'd like to read your copy (of the paperwork) it actually tells you that now. What we've just said to you. For your records [gestures towards camera] if you want to look at your second copy? We've stated that we have all the authority to...

Occupier: To do what?

Goon 1: To perform the inspection of the television equipment.

Occupier: Please inspect it.

Goon 1: Okay. Where are the remote controls?

Occupier: [Looking around room] Erm, they are somewhere [finds remote down side of sofa and offers it to Goon 1]

Goon 1: It's your [inaudible]. You know how to turn it on. I'm not sure how to.

Goon 1: I take it all this [gestures at cables in corner of room] has been unplugged here, yeah? This all the stuff? Is this all to do with the TV?

Occupier: It's all to do with the sound system and the DVD player, for watching DVDs.

Goon 2: There's a television here and there's no record of a licence.

Occupier: It is not an offence to have a TV that isn't receiving live TV streaming.

Goon 2: Clearly you're refusing to co-operate and therefore I'll have to... 

Occupier: I'm not refusing.

Goon 2: Well can you put in on for me please?

Occupier: I'm pushing the button. Look. Well, it'll need plugging in first.

Goon 1: Well go on then sir [gesturing towards unplugged cables in corner of room]. It is your property.

Occupier: I'm under no obligation to set the equipment up.

Goon 1: Alright [moves to plug in cables]

Occupier: You can inspect it. I'd like to note that the TV licence man is installing the equipment for the television so it can receive live streamed pictures, which presently at the time of the visit it was not [Goon 1 is clearly seen plugging in a power lead and aerial lead]

Goon 1: Okay then.

Occupier: You're the boss, by the looks of it [hands Goon 1 the remote]

Goon 1: No, not really. It's just I want to do what I've been sent here to do.

Goon 1: We will need to take your name though.

Occupier: I'm under no obligation to give my name.

Goon 1: So basically you're obstructing this search warrant [as he is holding the remote and playing with the TV set]

Occupier: Not at all. I've allowed yourselves in.

Goon 1: No, we need your name as well sir.

Occupier: No.

Goon 1: So, you're actually refusing to give us your name? So, for the record you are refusing to give us your name?

Occupier: I've already answered that.

Goon 1: So the answer is, you're refusing?

Occupier: [To police] Officers, have I committed an offence?

Police 2 (clean shaven): By doing what?

Occupier: By allowing these people under, as you said, the warrant into my home.

Police 2: The warrant obviously says that they've got the power of entry, the power to come in and to test equipment. By not giving your details you're basically hindering the investigation, aren't you?

Occupier: Is it your investigation or theirs?

Police 2: It's their investigation, not mine.

Occupier: Okay. I'm not obliged to give any details then.

Goon 1: So you're obstructing?

Occupier: There's the law [gesturing at police]. I'm not the law. You've obviously, erm...

Goon 1: Right. As it's your equipment you probably know better how to turn it on. Would you turn it on for us please?

Occupier: No. I only watch - it is on - the DVD player. That's how I watch TV. I only watch DVD films.

[Goon 1 is seen pushing buttons on the remote, but nothing happens]

Goon 2: That's the Sky remote.

Goon 1: Have you got the TV remote?

Occupier: I haven't got a TV remote.

Goon 1: Well you won't be able to use that [shows Sky remote] to get your DVD working, will you? That is for Sky.

Occupier: Right. Pioneer [gesturing at logo now showing on TV screen], Pioneer [gesturing at DVD player]

Goon 1: Yes fine, but you'd some sort of another (remote), which you've obviously got somewhere, which we need.

Occupier: May I just point out that the TV Licensing man has plugged in the TV aerial to try to enable the telly to receive live broadcasts.

Goon 1: I plugged in the leads that are there.

Occupier: Under a search warrant officers, erm, I'm unsure of the law obviously...

Police 2: So you are letting him test the TV [Goon 1 is currently pushing buttons on side of TV set, which is displaying a menu screen]

Occupier: Right, okay.

Police 1: If you read the paperwork that they've given to you sir, that will confirm things.

Goon 1: I'm not sure how to use this [looking confused at menu screen on TV] 

[Goon 2 moves in to help with TV menu screen, but actually turns the TV set off]

Goon 1: Right, so basically you're not really going to co-operate with these questions?

Occupier: Well, no. I'm under no obligation legally to speak to yourselves. If the officers want to take me down to the station and question me under caution then I'm happy to come down with you now.

Police 2:  Well, it's better to do it here. You don't need to come to the police station to do it (inaudible).

Occupier: Well, if I've committed an offence officer then I'm perfectly willing to speak to yourselves. You represent the law, I'm happy to talk to yourselves.

Police 2: Yeah, well it's their investigation. It's not for us.

Goon 1: I'm going to ask you some questions, okay? But obviously it's under caution [this is the first time either of the TV Licensing employees have mentioned the word "caution" and we're now more than 8 minutes into the visit]

Occupier: I'm not at liberty to answer any questions about legal obligations.

Goon 2: [Reads out caution]. Do you understand?

Occupier: No.

Goon 1: Well then he'll read it again and explain it to you, so that you understand. Read it back again.

Goon 2: [Repeats caution]

Occupier: I understand the caution.

Goon 2: Do you understand?

Occupier: No, because I only understand and recognise the caution by the representatives of the law [gestures towards police]

Goon 1: In this case...

Occupier: Yourselves work for Capita, who are employed by the TV Licensing agency. You have no legal authority of arrest over me, only the law does. If I've committed an offence then I am happy to come down to the station and answer any questions from these officers that they want to pose to me. I haven't got any obligation. As I say, I'm a law abiding citizen.

Goon 1: With the TV licence, we're governed by PACE, which is the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, which enables us to give you a caution. Now we can explain the caution to you...

Occupier: I don't recognise your caution.

Goon 1: You're not accepting - you won't accept our explanation of the caution?

Occupier: No.

Goon 1: [To Goon 2] Just put down that he won't accept an explanation of the caution, but he would understand it if the police gave it. [To occupier] So you'd understand it if the police gave it?

Occupier: If the police would like to ask me any questions at all down the station and I'm under arrest or caution, then I'm happy to do that.

Police 2: It's not our investigation though, is it?

Goon 1: How long has the television been here?

Occupier: I don't know.

Goon 1: You don't know?

Occupier: No.

Goon 1: When did you last have a licence? There has been a licence at this address.

Occupier: Oh, has there? I wouldn't know, because I don't need one.

Goon 1: [inaudible]

Occupier: What's in the past - we're talking now at the time of the search and what's history is history, I believe.

Goon 1: Well it is, unfortunately. Obviously you're being uncooperative with this investigation, okay? So what we'll have to do - we'll terminate the interview now, but it will be obstructing our investigation. Just to let you know, okay? So we'll be following it up with that side of it, okay? You've got your copy (of paperwork), okay?

Occupier: Right. Thanks for coming [goons and police start leaving property]. Sorry your time has been wasted officers [goons and police exit property]
This video footage is very fresh, so we're expecting further developments on this story over the next few days. In the meantime, we shall highlight a few of our observations and concerns about that way the goons conduct the visit:
  • The occupier allowed TV Licensing entry very quickly, as soon as he had checked their ID and established the purpose of their visit. The time stamp on the video shows that the goons were inside the property within 45 seconds.
  • The occupier immediately showed the goons where the TV set was and offered them the chance to examine it. At no time during the visit did the occupier stand anywhere near the TV set, or attempt to block the goons' access to it.
  • The occupier rummaged around to find the remote control and attempted to hand it to the lead goon (Carvill). The lead goon refused to take it, instead trying to get the occupier to incriminate himself by turning on the TV set. It is entirely understandable that the occupier refused to turn on the TV set in these circumstances.
  • The Notice of Powers and Rights (view here), a document given to the occupier that outlines TV Licensing's rights during the search, does not state that the occupier needs to answer their questions or help them turn on equipment.
  • The lead goon actually attempted to install the TV set by plugging in the power and aerial leads himself. Even if TV programmes had been seen, it is difficult to reconcile how the occupier could have been guilty of an offence due to the goon's actions of installing the equipment.
  • Both goons clearly lacked the technical ability and mental aptitude to operate and inspect the equipment present. On several occasions they are heard to say "I don't know how this works".
  • The occupier remained calm, well-reasoned and civil throughout. He had the forethought to explain his actions throughout the video. He also clearly explained the goons' actions during the video.
  • The goons made no attempt to caution the occupier until about 8 minutes into their visit, by which time the younger one had virtually completed the TVL178 Record of Interview form. Given this elementary breach of procedure, we'd suggest the completed form is evidentially worthless.
  • At no point was any TV programme image ever displayed on the TV screen (in case anyone tries to superimpose a frozen image from The One Show later on). The only images seen were the DVD player's welcome screen and the TV's own internal menu screen.
  • Chapter 16, Section 2 of the TV Licensing Visiting Procedures (which is usually redacted by the BBC) states the following in bolded print: "NB - a refusal to provide name, to cooperate with the interview or to otherwise be "difficult" does not amount to an obstruction of the warrant".
We look forward to seeing how TV Licensing pursue this case, so stay tuned for further updates.

Edit (10/1/15): Read about further developments with this story.

Edit (6/7/16): We have now written a more recent post, where we give the official number of TV Licensing search warrant applications in 2014-15. You can read it here.

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Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Admin said...

I have just been informed that the occupier made the decision to remove the video to "let the dust settle".

It would appear that it has already been re-uploaded to several other places, so I have replaced the link.

Anonymous said...

They should have cautioned him at the start. If they'd done that then they would have informed him that "you do not have to say anything unless you wish to do so". As that's the wording on the caution, difficult to see how they can claim he's being awkward by not answering questions.

Anonymous said...

Was it REALLY an official warrant, signed AND sealed by a magistrate or JP? I have seen other videos of goons showing a warrant just stamped "Court order" WITHOUT the name of the issuing court, and neither signed nor sealed by a court official. Without a GENUINE court order, goons have NO RIGHT OF ACCESS, with or without police attendance, and you can demand they leave your premises forthwith or face action for trespass.

NEVER let a goon inside, nor give your name or any other details. Answer ALL questions with "No comment"

Anonymous said...

The Occupier was incorrect in relation to the caution. As persons investigating potential criminal offences, the goons must caution any person they reasonably suspect of committing an offence, in order to present replies as reliable evidence in any proceedings. There is no obligation on the Occupier to "understand" the caution, nor any obligation on the person giving it to ensure the person receiving it has understood it. He could quite happily have continued to say "No" or say nothing.

Admin said...

It's funny, but in all the years I've been writing about TV Licensing I have never once seen a "warrant" that was stamped "court order" or similar.

I am satisfied that the warrant was legitimate and in order, however, their execution of it was flawed.

Unknown said...

if this had been filmed in North Korea , and there where 4 Government agents in a north Koreans citizens house , then the British,American Government would be showing this video to the UNITED NATIONS and kicking up a right stink , stating that the North Korean GOVERNMENT are evil , treating there citizens like criminals with frack all proof,and the UNITED NATIONS would be Adding more sanctions to there list..

David Lear said...

It is not uncommon for them to start setting it up and to try and/or get you to do it BUT BE CAREFUL what they are ACTUALLY going for is YOU watching live TV and THEM witnessing it. so NO you should NEVER let them set it up or force you to do it as to do so is to incriminate yourself - DO STATE that you refuse to watch any live broadcast as it happens, tell the officers that you have these concerns beforehand

Anonymous said...

I think David Lear's comment is especially important. If they were to make the TV receive a live broadcast and they witnessed you viewing it then they would have all the evidence they would need. So, as David says, before they start doing anything to the TV you should make clear that if they find some way of receiving a live broadcast _they_ will have done that themselves and that (a) you have never done anything like that in the past, and (b) you will not be party to their actions because they are illegal.

Admin said...

Funny, but I can somehow imagine that events will get lost in translations before they get as far as court.

In such a situation I envisage that instead of being "The TV was unplugged, so I plugged it in, played with the channels, and eventually found a live broadcast", the goon's statement would actually be "the TV was installed (but omitting to say by whom) and a live broadcast was observed on the screen (but omitting to say the efforts needed to get there)".

Shakey said...

Ha haaa I see my old 'mates' from BBC/TVL are still up to their old 'tricks'. IMHO this guy will receive a summons in ay case because the BBC/TVL harlots dont like it when they are demonstrably WRONG and the results are shown on social media. BTW if you look on the 'resistance' website forum you will see that someone has already superimposed an 'image' of the 'One Show' onto the blank screen...very odd...hope Crapita wont try to use it in a vindictive Court case.

Admin said...

Hello Shakey.
The young goon apprentice, Alfred, was one of those that took part in the ballsed up search of Steve Heather's home.
Small world, eh?

Anonymous said...

How did they get a warrant without knowing his name ?

Admin said...

They don't need a name to get a warrant. It's a myth that they do. All they need to do is convince a Magistrate that they have reasonable suspicion that an offence is taking place (e.g. unlicensed TV reception) and that they won't gain access any other way.

You might find our search warrant article interesting:

TinTin said...

The big question here
So what is Obstruction and how can this be defined,
what chance do we stand if this is actually proven in court.
Remember magistrates are people like us they don't have a deep understanding of the law
and an individuals rights granted
I think its so important to be properly represented in court
we require a Barristers opinion on
your human rights under PACE

is refusing to provide your name Obstruction
is upholding to right of silence Obstruction
is refusing to set up equipment Obstruction

GOON 'so your actually refusing to give us your name" so for the record "your obstructing the warrant then"

GOON "look your being uncooperative with this investigation, so what will haft to do is pursue you for obstruction then"...

forget the fact you don't want to incriminate yourself, or have the right to remain silent then

Remember the goons not there to help you he wants a conviction one way or the other!

Dose the warrant state you must give your details!

The video uploaded to you tube clearly shows
is that capita employees are now being told that obstruction charges are the way forward to guarantee prosecution.
lets be honest, the Goon Carvel has very little understanding of new technology,works that was demonstrated by his actions to fumble with the TV

Because of different types of technology has enabled us ways to source our entertainment, other ways
They don't like it when it hits them in the gravy train

yeah_right said...

Has anybody noticed that at about 7:50 in the video, you have it transcribed as

Occupier: Well, if I've committed an offence officer then I'm perfectly willing to speak to yourselves. You represent the law, I'm happy to talk to yourselves.

The occupier in the video actually mentions caution for the first time himself while talking the the police!
At this point you can see the little goon point at the area on the 178 that mentions putting their victim under caution! You then see big goon lean in look at this himself, they have a wee whisper look panicked then big goon turns his head away as he realizes that all his previous questions have meant f**k all! Then he makes himself look even more of a prat by trying to use the caution!
They could get no signal even after connecting extra cables
forgot to caution the occupier even with an idiots guide to stitching up the innocent stating to do this

Then to top it he even continues to call it obstruction when the occupier won't talk after he has told him he has the right to remain silent!
Where did they hire this goon!

Anonymous said...

Prior to interview under caution under PACE the person reasonably suspected of committing an offence should be told that he has the right to consult privately with a solicitor. If he says that he wishes to consult a solicitor, then the interview should stop.

Anonymous said...


The occupier has obstructed the search warrant by:
1. Not assisting with the inspection of the TV equipment
2. Not complying with their reasonable requests or instructions.
3. Not giving his name

To which he was prosecuted for.

Overall its not a good example of how to deal with a TV licence search warrant. if you were to follow this example a TVL obstruction prosecution will be again successful.

From reading redacted TVL visiting procedures. The goons are trained to extract from the occupier which enables them to issue a caution and to convict for TVL evasion. By asking the following questions which are on the TVL178 form.

1. Do you have tv or tv reciever here?
2. Do you have a valid tv licence?
3. May i come in a see the reciever?

If the occupier answers these 3 questions or variations of these questions it will give the TVL goons enough know facts to issue the occupier with a PACE caution and allow a conviction for TVL evasion.

So with this in mind what can learn from this video of the search warrant.

1. The occupier offered and confessed to not having a valid TV Licence from the start.
2. The occupier when asked Take me to your TV equipment? Responsed - the TV equipment is here.
3. The occupier gave the TVL goons enough know facts for a PACE caution.
4. The PACE caution did not come until after 8 minutes into the search warrant. The reason for this is that TVL goons are not inept or poorly trained. It was that the occupier was confessing to possibly TVL evasion and to obstructing a search warrant. Why interrupt someone with a PACE caution- by informing them that you have the right to silence. All of what the occupier has admitted to and has done will be allowed into evidence against him at the magistrate court.
5. If you are saying to yourself "i would have insisted on my rights under PACE code B and C and Your rights to a solicitor during questioning etc, etc". I would personally not waste my breath and time.


THE REST OF PACE CODE B & CODE C DO NOT APPLY TO TV LICENCING. I would imagine if you where to pushed it too hard you could end up with a obstruction prosecution.

In conclusion
- TVL search warrants are very rare.
- if you are unlucky and have them banging on your door with a warrant in hand.
Do the following.
1. Allow them immediate and unhindered entry to your home.
2. Video the whole thing.
3. REMAIN SILENT. What ever you say and do during the visit will be used against you.
4. REMAIN CALM. they want want you you to lose your shit and start kicking off. Its the cherry on top of the cake for them.
5. Comply with all reasonable requests and instructions. (Though i would suggest that you DO NOT take them to any TV Reciever or TV Equipment as this self incriminating).
6. Give your name when asked.
7. Do not sign the TVL178 form
8. Get your copy of it.
9. Good luck at magistrate court defending the bogus TVL prosecution.