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  • FIRST POST
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 14th Jul 18, 8:24 PM
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    Cornucopia
    Unlawful TV Licence Enforcement
    • #1
    • 14th Jul 18, 8:24 PM
    Unlawful TV Licence Enforcement 14th Jul 18 at 8:24 PM
    Many FMs will be aware that I don't have/need a TV Licence. In fact, I've been in that situation for a number of years, and during that period have gained a lot of information and knowledge about the TV Licence, TV Licensing and the legal context for enforcement and prosecution.

    One slight disclaimer is that I've always used legal strategies against TV Licensing, and have consequently never had a doorstep visit from TVL, and for most of my legally-Licence free time, I haven't received enforcement letters either. However, I know from BBC information that they make around 4 million attempted visits each year. Around 90 million letters are sent, of which about half are thought to be for the purpose of enforcement.

    In February this year, I wrote the most recent of a series of letters to the BBC's Head of Revenue Management - the woman who effectively runs the TV Licensing operation through an outsource arrangement with Capita. I received no response. I sent a reminder in April and asked my MP to petition the BBC for a response. Still nothing. So, this weekend I am drafting a complaint to Lord Hall about this mishandling of my complaint.

    The nature of my complaint was that Article 8 of the Human Rights Act (including its case law) lays down certain conditions that apply to Public Authorities who seek to interfere with the privacy/home life of members of the Public. In particular, it requires that any intervention must be enabled by legislation (or similar official authority) and that the Public Authority must take reasonable steps to ensure that affected members of the Public understand the laws that are being applied to them, together with ensuring that the implementation of processes based on the law(s) is reasonably proof against arbitrariness.

    The purpose of these requirements is to ensure that any interference with privacy is properly authorised and fairly implemented. Many people have observed that this does not seem to be the case with TV Licensing, and these legal arguments suggest that that is true, and provide as sound a legal basis for that opinion as a non-lawyer could reasonably muster.

    My suggestion to the BBC is that there is no legislation that empowers their TVL investigatory process (they have previously refused to supply me with whatever information they hold) - this would make their process unlawful to the extent that it interferes with people's privacy in their homes. If there is legislation, they need to ensure that the Public is aware of it, and the legislation itself must be explicit and specific in connecting the legal requirement and the enforcement process. Since the BBC does not do this, their process is unlawful.

    I think that the BBC have been given every chance to address these issues (and I think any reasonably well-informed person would know that we do not have "secret laws" in this country).

    Against that background I am going to try to get the Media involved. (They have traditionally been resistant to getting too close to TV Licensing presumably for fear of being seen to condone law-breaking).
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 15-07-2018 at 3:12 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    The Money Savers Arms and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
Page 3
    • unforeseen
    • By unforeseen 5th Aug 18, 12:45 PM
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    unforeseen
    Maybe its time to change to a licensing model used by a number of European countries where every household and business pays regardless of whether they have TV receiving equipment including PCs, smartphones etc.

    Does away with the need for Capita. It would then be a simple case of if no licence registered to an address then an offence is being committed. None of this having to prove that you watch/don't watch TV. A nice, simple absolute liability offence.
    • sourcrates
    • By sourcrates 5th Aug 18, 1:59 PM
    • 15,540 Posts
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    sourcrates
    Maybe its time to change to a licensing model used by a number of European countries where every household and business pays regardless of whether they have TV receiving equipment including PCs, smartphones etc.

    Does away with the need for Capita. It would then be a simple case of if no licence registered to an address then an offence is being committed. None of this having to prove that you watch/don't watch TV. A nice, simple absolute liability offence.
    Originally posted by unforeseen

    I like the way the BBC describe the way they are funded as unique.


    Its more of a forced tax to my mind, I too am no fan of adverts, but i believe they should compete for there spot in the marketplace like any other service provider, sell what they peddle to us, so we have the choice.


    The fact you can be fined, and even sent to prison for refusing to pay that fine, just for watching a television, stinks of George Orwell`s 1984 to me, its just ludicrous in this day and age of technology.
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    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 5th Aug 18, 3:12 PM
    • 10,796 Posts
    • 11,200 Thanks
    Cornucopia
    Maybe its time to change to a licensing model used by a number of European countries where every household and business pays regardless of whether they have TV receiving equipment including PCs, smartphones etc.
    Originally posted by unforeseen
    If it meant an end to the dubious enforcement policies and practices of BBC-TV Licensing, then it could be an option. However, I think if there were no option not to pay then the BBC would have to be a lot more transparent and a lot more accountable than it is now.

    Does away with the need for Capita. It would then be a simple case of if no licence registered to an address then an offence is being committed. None of this having to prove that you watch/don't watch TV. A nice, simple absolute liability offence.
    I imagine that any system will still have complications, and maybe outright exemptions. For example, a home with a lodger currently requires two licences, but looks just like any other home from the outside. Similarly, I would imagine that any scheme would treat empty properties as exempt.

    As long as there are those kinds of details, and the BBC has a misguided view as to how they should be enforced, they will still need a certain amount of legally problematic doorstepping.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    The Money Savers Arms and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • unforeseen
    • By unforeseen 5th Aug 18, 5:42 PM
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    unforeseen
    Germany is based on the household regardless of the number of people in it. So even the German version of an HMO needs only one licence. The only exemptions are for households on certain benefits. Empty houses? Owner still pays as do 2nd home owners and businesses.

    Simple system. Each unique postal address pays.

    It's more a case of every building pays but there are some exemptions
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 5th Aug 18, 6:22 PM
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    Cornucopia
    How do they charge Business premises?

    ISTR there being an issue (a court challenge) to the German system in regards to also requiring a Licence for every car, too.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    The Money Savers Arms and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • unforeseen
    • By unforeseen 5th Aug 18, 6:32 PM
    • 3,033 Posts
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    unforeseen
    For businesses its based on a number of things such as employee numbers

    See https://web.archive.org/web/20130317092949/http://www.rundfunkbeitrag.de/unternehmen-und-institutionen/rund-um-das-neue-modell.shtml if you use chrome it will translate it for you.

    For places like hotels then the number of rooms comes into play as well.
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 5th Aug 18, 6:43 PM
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    Cornucopia
    Thanks. It sounds as though their scheme is very comprehensive.

    It will be interesting to see how the UK's approach changes (if at all) over the coming years. There seem to be a number of countries that have changed their system, have abolished their TV Licence, or are in the process of changing. Presumably, this is a reaction to changes in technology.

    I have to say that my experience of the BBC and Capita is such that I would much prefer any solution that doesn't require either of them to participate.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    The Money Savers Arms and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • silverwhistle
    • By silverwhistle 6th Aug 18, 10:28 AM
    • 2,150 Posts
    • 2,979 Thanks
    silverwhistle
    Particularly the latter.

    I've now had four of their letters in the version where it asks in a separate window on the front of the envelope: "Will you be in on the nnth?"

    I've been in on every occasion so far, so one would have to conclude the message isn't for mutual help but purely to intimidate and embarrass. Both unsuccessfully in my circumstances.
    Last edited by silverwhistle; 06-08-2018 at 10:28 AM. Reason: firefox formatting
    • Herbie21
    • By Herbie21 10th Aug 18, 10:14 AM
    • 526 Posts
    • 1,068 Thanks
    Herbie21
    The truth is that electronic detection is not in routine use by TV Licensing.

    The vast majority of Licence cases are based upon an unsatisfactory confession obtained during an unsatisfactory interview under caution all based upon an unsatisfactory understanding and implementation of PACE requirements.
    Originally posted by Cornucopia
    I have read your thread with interest and you deserve a huge 'pat on the back' for your efforts in trying to influence change at the BBC. Unfortunately, TV Licensing is such a huge organisation with vast legal teams behind it that it will be almost impossible to achieve your desired aim. Any change would normally be via questions from your MP.

    As my business assists individuals who are facing enforcement action by bailiffs, my concern for a very long time has not been with the BBC.....but with the contract that they awarded to Capita Business Services Ltd in 2012 (expires in 2022).

    Having read the contract and accompanying schedules the role of Capita is truly worrying. This includes:

    Initiating prosecutions
    Serving Summonses
    Presenting case to Court
    Defending appeals and legal challenges
    Process costs awarded by Magistrates Courts.

    Etc
    Etc

    PS: Each week approx 3,500 TV Licence evasions cases come before the courts. Approx 10% of all court fines are for this offence.
    Last edited by Herbie21; 10-08-2018 at 1:29 PM.
    • Labsuper
    • By Labsuper 10th Aug 18, 10:25 AM
    • 72 Posts
    • 105 Thanks
    Labsuper

    ...As my business assists individuals who are facing enforcement action by bailiffs, my concern for a very long time has not been with the BBC.....but with the contract that they awarded to Capita Business Services Ltd in 2012 (expires in 2012)...
    Originally posted by Herbie21
    Did it? I hope you have someone in your business who pays more attention to detail.
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 10th Aug 18, 10:30 AM
    • 10,796 Posts
    • 11,200 Thanks
    Cornucopia
    The role of Capita is definitely problematic for BBC-TV Licensing, although I would say that from my perspective it would be wrong to think that all or most of the issues are the fault of Capita. The BBC sets the policies of TV Licensing, and Capita implements them. They share the blame, and neither organisation has the requisite integrity to tell the other to do the proverbial.

    One small detail of the Capita relationship is particularly troubling because it inveigles the Courts in the issues...

    - Capita presents TV Licensing cases in Magistrates Courts (including under the Single Justice Procedure).

    - The people who present the cases are Capita employees who are not Barristers. They are not even Solicitors. Capita calls them "Court Presenters".

    - In theory, they should ask permission from the Court at every session, and in theory the Court should weigh up whether the interests of Justice are best served by granting that permission. This does not appear to be routinely happening. An FOI request might be revealing on this, though.

    - Because Capita Court Presenters are not Solicitors, they are not bound by the Solicitors code of conduct, and they are not subject to the relevant disciplinary procedures. Some of their activities inside and outside Courts are questionable, and it's likely that if they were Solicitors they would not conduct themselves in that way.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    The Money Savers Arms and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • Herbie21
    • By Herbie21 10th Aug 18, 1:28 PM
    • 526 Posts
    • 1,068 Thanks
    Herbie21
    Did it? I hope you have someone in your business who pays more attention to detail.
    Originally posted by Labsuper
    Amended thank you!!

    Keyboard engaged before brain....
    • Herbie21
    • By Herbie21 10th Aug 18, 1:37 PM
    • 526 Posts
    • 1,068 Thanks
    Herbie21

    - Capita presents TV Licensing cases in Magistrates Courts (including under the Single Justice Procedure).

    - The people who present the cases are Capita employees who are not Barristers. They are not even Solicitors. Capita calls them "Court Presenters".

    - In theory, they should ask permission from the Court at every session, and in theory the Court should weigh up whether the interests of Justice are best served by granting that permission. This does not appear to be routinely happening. An FOI request might be revealing on this, though.

    - Because Capita Court Presenters are not Solicitors, they are not bound by the Solicitors code of conduct, and they are not subject to the relevant disciplinary procedures. Some of their activities inside and outside Courts are questionable, and it's likely that if they were Solicitors they would not conduct themselves in that way.
    Originally posted by Cornucopia
    Another important point is the 'prosecution costs' which are typically around 125. And who do these costs go to......Capita of course.
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 11th Aug 18, 7:39 AM
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    Cornucopia
    Some FMs may be aware that there are a variety of legal approaches that can be adopted in order to prevent TV Licensing from causing undue stress, harassment, etc. to you and your household.

    The issue with many options is that they are legally complex, and that they can have legal or practical side-effects.

    Of those that don't have side-effects, my favourite option up to now has been to invoke the PACE Right to decline interview in writing, in advance. When I did this, the BBC's response was to instruct TV Licensing never to contact me. Whilst this response is not guaranteed, using these PACE rights can be expected to be very effective, since they are well-documented, and if the BBC does not observe them properly, it can create legal difficulties for them with the Courts.

    The BBC's failure to respond to these Human Rights Law observations gives rise to a new legal option, which is to simply say to them that their approach does not meet the requirements of Article 8.2, it is therefore unlawful, and (a) they cannot compel or coerce you into complying with an unlawful process, and (b) if they try, you will not cooperate because their process is unlawful.
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 11-08-2018 at 7:41 AM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    The Money Savers Arms and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
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