Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Just for the record:- You cannot be sent to prison for failing to buy a TV licence. Ever,

But you can be sent to prison for failing to pay any fine for any offence (but it's difficult, and the numbers are small). Inability to pay is not the same as refusal to pay.

I wish the press knew this.


  1. I understand TV licenses account for 10% of mags court work. Decriminalising should take the pressure off.

    The downside is they no longer have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you have a television before the bailiffs kick down your door and distrain goods to the value of. I mean, on the balance of probability everyone has a TV, right?

    Ironically if they take your TV to cover the license fee plus costs you would no longer need a license.

    Maybe this is the future. Benefit fraud could be dealt with by civil recovery plus a civil penalty. Motorists caught without insurance could be deemed to have purchased a policy from the government and door-kickers could collect the premium plus a civil penalty.

    Maybe the government knows what it's doing as it starves the CJS to death.

  2. Bryn, Isle of Anglesey27 March 2014 at 00:34

    This could indeed be interesting. Looking at the comment by Nationalist above I see that I can look forward to regular visits by the enforcement/extortion squad.
    I do indeed have a TV - linked by HDMI cable to a PC, and used only as a large monitor - and declared as such to TV Licensing.
    No antennae or satellite dishes are connected (although there is a dish mounted on the back of the house - looks like some ladder work in my near future).
    I currently do watch a very little "catch-up" TV, but if it becomes licensable/chargeable I will be blacklisting iplayer in my routers firewall settings.

    The issue is as Nationalist has stated : What quality of evidence, and what sort of evidence, will be sufficient for "Civil Recovery" (semi-legal demanding of money or goods by menaces in my opinion) procedures to be initiated. And who decides that such proceeding are lawful? And what recourse does the average Joe Bloggs have in such cases? Indeed, how does Joe Bloggs tell the difference between a bailiffs goon-in-a-suit, and a con-man impersonating said goon while holding an official-looking document.......?

    Interesting times............

  3. it is a case of being careful what you wish for I fear. While criminalising TV licence evasion may indeed have been a hammer to crack a nut, at least there was some form of judicial scrutiny and a recognised (and fairly straightfoward) appeal process - the form to complete to appeal to the Crown Court is miraculously simple!!

    With civil enforcement, the points raised by Bryn are indeed interesting and ones to ponder. No legal aid will be available for any appeal process I'm sure and the same level of legal scurtiny almost certainly will be hard to come by.

  4. I dount tv licenses account for 10% of work in mags. court. It may be so by numbers of cases but each is very short. Civil matters have lower standard of proof so will court accept TV licensing / Crapita statement that "you probably watch tv"?

    1. There used to be a measure called weighted case load. It was calculated, for each petty sessional area, by multiplying each case by a weight (derived from the average time similar cases took in a sample of all E&W magistrates courts) - the sum of all such weighted cases being the load for that PSA. Although the number of TV cases going through courts was large, the weighted load was small. For some reason they stopped calculating weighted loads about ten years ago.

  5. Decriminalisation is populist nonsense.

    Watching TV without paying for a licence is like driving without insurance - the dishonest are sponging on the honest (in the latter case through MIB).

    As for "needing a telly" - there are places where to be without a car is to suffer very much greater isolation than to be without a TV can ever be, but if you live in a remote village with one bus each day and you want to run a car you have to tax and insure it whatever your means. And failure to do so is not a "civil" matter. What is the difference?

    The amendment before Parliament requires consideration, or a review, or some such anodyne nonsense. It is to be hoped that sense will in due course prevail and the BBC not left naked before its cheating enemies.

  6. Tony Baverstock2 April 2014 at 13:54

    "Watching TV without paying for a licence is like driving without insurance - the dishonest are sponging on the honest (in the latter case through MIB)."

    What a bizarre comment. Mind you no more bizarre than a system where you pay a TV licence to the BBC to own a TV set on which you watch any live TV even if you do not watch the BBC.

  7. How hard is it to get sent to the cells for failing to pay a fine?

    Just refuse to pay, or would ranting and raving in court, stripping nakid etc. help? Or just turn up with a bag of clothing and tell the Judge you are ready to go?

    And once they did their time would the fine be wiped off?

    Just curious. I don't live in the UK.

    1. Most fine enforcement is now done by court staff, as we normally make a Collection Order on imposing fines and costs. It used to be the case that wilful refusal or culpable neglect would allow imprisonment. In the very few cases where this arose the Duty Solicitor would have to be sent for.

  8. Even the BBC admit they are indirectly responsible so why is a Magistrate trying to defend them, had one to many sweeteners have we?


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