Despite not having a TV set in her home
for more than six years, Anne Duvall, who lives
in Berkhamsted, has received several letters
reminding that she renew her TV licence.
She said, I keep on writing back saying I
dont have a TV. Their letters are always
extremely rude, offensive and with a threatening
tone. Anne then received a letter to say an
enquiry officer would be calling round to inspect
They dont seem to understand that
there are people who can live without television.
Why do they need to check? said Anne, who
informed TV Licensing that she would not allow
anyone to search her property unless they had a
She said, Its a matter of principle.
Im not allowing them in my house after six
years of being harassed, because I dont
have a TV set. Under English law an enquiry
officer does not have the right to enter your
home without your permission and to do so would
However, a TV Licensing spokesperson said,
We would encourage Mrs Duvall to co-operate
with our enquiries so that we can confirm that
she does not need a TV licence and can therefore
minimise future contact with her. Once the
check is carried out TV licensing officers said
there will be no further letter for three years.
The spokesperson added, A brief visit is a
much more cost-effective way for us to verify
whether someone requires a TV licence or not, and
can be far less intrusive for people who
genuinely dont possess a TV than parking a
detector van outside.
Despite this claim, Anne is adamant that no-one
will be allowed into her home unless they go to
court to get a search warrant. She said, I
remember when we used to have dog licences. They
didnt send people round to check for dog
hairs if you said you didnt have one!"
Since when did you have to prove you DON'T need a
TV licence? (Source: Hemel Hempstead Today)
TV LICENCE DETECTION
Television Enquiry Officers must interview you under
caution, if they are to use their visit as evidence
against you in court. The caution says: You do not have
to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do
not mention when questioned something which you later
rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in
evidence. Do you understand? So, if you answer questions,
those answers can be read out in court, but:
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SAY ANYTHING
This means anything. You do not have to tell
the enquiry officer your name, you do not have to tell
him whether or not you have a television, or if you live
at the address, or if you have a licence.
WHAT WILL THEY ASK ME?
No surprises here. Television Licensing officers are not
paid to think for themselves, they have a list of
questions to ask in every case. They are:
Are you the occupier?
Do you have a television on the
Do you have a licence? If no administer
May I inspect the set?
Was there a video recorder?
When was the set installed?
When did you first use the set without an
When did you last use the set?
Do you have satellite or cable?
What is your date of birth?
What is your occupation or status?
* I have to tell you
that you may be prosecuted for an offence under the
Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949. Is there anything you want
You will than be asked to buy a television licence,
without prejudice, or in other words pay for
a licence and still run the risk of being prosecuted.
They will then ask you to sign the interview record as
accurate, but you dont have to do so.
THEY SAID IT MIGHT HARM MY DEFENCE IF I
DONT ANSWER QUESTIONS
You are being asked questions because they know you
dont have a licence, but they dont know who
you are, or if you are using a television. If you tell
them who you are and you say you are using a television,
they will usually take you to court. If you dont
tell them you stand a better chance of not being taken to
court as they dont know who you are, or if you have
a television. If they knew that in the first place there
would be no need for them to call.
CAN THEY COME INTO MY HOME?
They can only come into your home if you let
them in (Can I inspect the set?), or if a magistrate
grants them a search warrant. They will only get a search
warrant if they can satisfy the magistrate there are
reasonable grounds to suspect you have a television for
use on the premises.
CAN I GET LEGAL AID?
Some people are entitled to receive a public
funding certificate to cover magistrates court
proceedings free of charge. If you want advice, you need to see a
solicitor who deals in criminal law. Details of
solicitors offering legal help can be found from the
SO I ANSWERED THE QUESTIONS AND NOW I VE
GOT A SUMMONS. WHAT CAN I DO?
Commission, using their call centre number 0845
608 1122, or using the web site www.justask.org.uk.
Alternatively look in yellow pages for any solicitor
displaying the Criminal Defence Service logo. If you are
on income support, income based job seekers allowance, or
working families tax credit, you will qualify for
free legal help before you go to court. You may also
qualify for this help of you are on a low income. Many
solicitors will offer you a free first interview anyway.
Ask a solicitor for details.
CHECK WHEN THE SUMMONS WAS ISSUED
The Magistrates Courts Act 1980
allows the TV Licence authority 6 months to tell the
magistrates clerk they want a summons issuing. If
they are too late its just too bad; they cannot prosecute
I WANT TO PLEAD GUILTY WHAT CAN I
There are two ways of pleading guilty. You will
have received a form with your summons that you can
return to the court, saying that you want to plead
guilty, or you can attend the hearing.
DOES IT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE IF I TURN UP?
Television licensing courts expect get through
60 70 cases in a court session. They do not expect
many people to turn up and they expect most of those who
do not come to plead guilty by letter. If they dont
do that, and dont attend, the TV Licensing officers
will ask to have the case proved in absence.
This means that the statement that the TV Enquiry officer
made when he visited you and his interview
will be read out. The magistrates will then find you
guilty, and you will normally be fined £150 to £200 and
ordered to pay the TV Licensing officers costs (currently
£45.00). If you turn up and plead guilty, the
magistrates must listen to what you have to say. They
will probably fine you about the same amount and order
you to pay the costs, but it will take them longer and
they will have to consider your case in greater depth.
CAN I PLEAD NOT GUILTY?
Yes; you can either use the form to tell the
court you are not guilty, in which case the
magistrates will adjourn the case to a trial date, when
you must attend, and the trial will take place. You
should plead not guilty if you do not have
television receiving equipment installed, or if you had a
licence when the enquiry officer called. If you were
promised you wouldnt be prosecuted, or if you have
any doubts what to do, you should see a solicitor.
I HAVE HEARD YOU PAY LESS IF YOU PLEAD GUILTY. IS
You are supposed to be given a discount if you
plead guilty, but the magistrates will still fine you,
and they will fine you more for not having a television
licence than they would have fined you if you had stolen
something or hit someone in most cases.
I HAVE HEARD THAT IT IS AGAINST EUROPEAN LAW TO
BE FINED FOR NOT HAVING A TELEVISION LICENCE. IS THIS
The power of the TV Licence agency to prosecute
people is being challenged in a number of test cases,
which are based on European law. The result will not be
known for some time. A solicitor can advise you how you
can have your case challenged in the same way.