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Riaz398 posts since 6 Jan 2016
Following the change in legislation requiring users of BBC iPlayer to possess a TV licence then how does TV Licensing pinpoint evaders? Traditionally TV Licensing has used a combination of a TV detector and the eyes of an enquiry officer to try to establish whether a live programme is being watched. If an enquiry officer cannot confirm that a programme is a live broadcast then he cannot invoke a prosecution. A digital device displaying an iPlayer programme does not produce any characteristic RF signal and TV Licensing does not currently have the technology to tap into an internet datastream. It's also much harder for an enquiry officer to determine whether iPlayer is being used or not from looking at a screen from a distance than it is for them to determine if a live TV programme from a main channel is being watched.

Therefore, it looks like it is well and truly a matter of honesty.
cwathen3,382 posts since 27 Dec 2001
Westcountry Spotlight
As far as I can tell, there has been no change to allow for the IPlayer licencing requirement. TVL are just using the same old model they've always used:

1) Assume that every unlicenced address must be comitting TV Licence evasion
2) Bombard those addresses with monthly threatening letters from 'Jane Powell' of <insert nearest major city> 'enforcement division' in the hope that evaders will buy a licence and non-evaders will contact them to say they don't need one
3) Put addresses which don't respond on a list to eventually be visited after about 18 months of sending letters.
4) If a visit is successful, either mark the address as not needing a licence or take enforcement action depending on the outcome
5) If a visit is unsuccesful through denied access and/or attempts to make a Youtube video, apply to the courts for a warrant then go back to step 4
6) If a visit is unsuccesful through no answer at the door, go back to step 2.
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Bail3,512 posts since 30 Mar 2001 Moderator
Meridian (South) South Today
TV detector vans are of course entirely fictitious and always have been, they're a "marketing" gimmick to also convince people to pay up.

The "TV Licensing" brand/company is entirely owned and operated by the BBC, although they rather hide that fact. The enforcement is mostly contracted out to the Capita rent-a-cops (https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/feb/27/bbc-investigation-tv-licence-enforcement-outsourcing-firm-capita)

So yeah, if you watch on a web device and have no visable TV, theres very little they could do to "prove" you watch BBC content, other than your own sence of fairness. I'm all for a subscription all access iPlayer with a back catalogue of content over the current model which is really rather outdated now. But that is a entirely different topic.
Bail.
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Inspector Sands11,369 posts since 25 Aug 2004
TV detector vans are of course entirely fictitious and always have been, they're a "marketing" gimmick to also convince people to pay up.

Are you sure about that? The technology did exist to do it, but whether every van was equipped is another matter


Quote:
The "TV Licensing" brand/company is entirely owned and operated by the BBC, although they rather hide that fact. The enforcement is mostly contracted out to the Capita rent-a-cops (https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/feb/27/bbc-investigation-tv-licence-enforcement-outsourcing-firm-capita)

It's not just enforcement they do, the whole running of the scheme is outsourced to them.
Mike W4,678 posts since 30 Apr 2006
It's an interesting approach, as the police (And other bodies who investigate criminal offences) have to abide by the rules of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and the associated codes of practice. Most of this is built around having 'reasonable grounds to suspect a person of having committed a criminal offence' - within England and Wales at least.
Their approach of sending such notices out, which does happen as outlined above, would be a breach of PACE and the Human Rights Act (article 8(2)). The intrusive means of sending letters based on assumption rather than reasonable, objective grounds of suspicion is a breach of this.
I as a police officer couldn't arrest a person without having the above grounds to suspect (and belief it's necessary under S24(5)) or even report you for summons, so to assume that a person is committing an offence without it is wholly wrong. The issue is with these outsourced companies is the they don't get taught the test of reasonableness (Clapham Omnibus) - they get taught snippets of law without a wider understanding of its application which is proportionate, legal, accountable, necessary or ethical. This is similar of Railway Revenue staff who are trained in PACE interviews, or DWP staff who are trained as such - often they start investigations on hunches - which isn't objective nor would they stand up to scrutiny when looked at by a 3rd party.

A little side story:
We recently had a TV Licencing enforcement goon come to our place of work as we allegedly had a television monitor (in fact we had Cool used for briefings and CCTV viewing and hand my line manager (Who is also a uniformed police sergeant) a letter saying we were being investigated for not having a TVL and had a caution/reply box on it. Of course it was pointed out to said Crapita goon that the caution alone is not sufficient, and there were 4 other things that needed to be said beforehand. He simply stated that we were in the wrong. none of the monitors were used to receive terrestrial signals, or watch television. Moneymaking at its finest. It later transpired we did have a valid TVL in any case!
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cwathen3,382 posts since 27 Dec 2001
Westcountry Spotlight
Quote:
Their approach of sending such notices out, which does happen as outlined above, would be a breach of PACE and the Human Rights Act (article 8(2)). The intrusive means of sending letters based on assumption rather than reasonable, objective grounds of suspicion is a breach of this.

This is the issue. You don't for instance get the DVLA writing to everyone without a driving licence on a monthly basis reminding them that driving without a licence is a criminal offence, running through the penalties for it, employing people to investigate unlicensed people to check if they are driving without a licence, and try and make people who do not need a driving licence to register with them as not needing one (and even then may conduct a visit to check that the person really isn't driving).


One of the letters on their rotation even includes lines like 'before a hearing is set at your local court' and advises that 'you will be allowed to take this letter into court with you'. And these letters are being sent to people as a random mailer with no evidence that they have done anything wrong.

In fact I cannot think of any other licence-able activity where the licensing authority pursues the unlicenced in quite the same way.

It also seems a bit odd that TVL is readily able to obtain court warrants to conduct inspections where the suspicion that an offence is being committed is nothing more than the accused simply not complying with TVL - which they are under no legal obligation to do at all.

It may well be true that Capita employees calling themselves 'officers' have little real understanding of the law, Capita's competence itself may also be questionable but then it does ultimately go back to the fact that TV Licencing is being given carte blance to treat unlicenced people as criminals with no evidence, and no other part of the legal system seems willing to stop them.

TV detector vans are of course entirely fictitious and always have been, they're a "marketing" gimmick to also convince people to pay up.

Are you sure about that? The technology did exist to do it, but whether every van was equipped is another matter
It's not just enforcement they do, the whole running of the scheme is outsourced to them.

Which brings us back to the 'TV Detector Van'. Whilst I'm sure some sort of detection technology exists, the level to which it exists, how accurate it is, and to what extent TV Licencing actually use it (if at all) is a matter of debate.

To me it seems pretty obvious that the reason they get away with acting as they do is because it is privately acknowledged by the powers that be that without their methods they'd never get anyone.

So if they do have workable TV detector vans (which they have claim to have had for the last 65 years) you would imagine by now the technology would be so developed that they would be good enough to bring convictions on their own (or at least would be good enough as evidence for court warrants to conduct inspections). It would get them more reliable convictions, it would end the PR disaster of their current methods of working, and saving them a fortune in the costs of administering their current' fear and intimidation' model of detection.

From the simple reason that they don't seem to get much out of their TV detector vans, I would say they are a work of fiction.
Last edited by cwathen on 23 October 2017 8:13pm - 4 times in total
Neil Jones3,923 posts since 23 Dec 2001
Central (West) Midlands Today
One method of detection is apparently the TV oscillator or, I believe, the tuner. On the basis I presume this is based on the analogue TV tuners and of course we don't use them now as we can get TV through Freeview, Sky, BT, Virgin, TalkTalk, etc I presume the oscillator detection method, if true, has packed up and died?
Inspector Sands11,369 posts since 25 Aug 2004
..
One method of detection is apparently the TV oscillator or, I believe, the tuner. On the basis I presume this is based on the analogue TV tuners and of course we don't use them now as we can get TV through Freeview, Sky, BT, Virgin, TalkTalk, etc I presume the oscillator detection method, if true, has packed up and died?

I think it died with modern electronics and definitely with CRTs. If you held an AM radio up to an old set it put out all sorts of RF noise, the sound of which would change as you changed channels on the set.

Modern TVs or tuners in set top boxes don't do that and these days there's all sorts of other gadgets spewing out RF noise. I imagine even if it did still work it would be drowned out by that lot
Markymark4,963 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today
One method of detection is apparently the TV oscillator or, I believe, the tuner. On the basis I presume this is based on the analogue TV tuners and of course we don't use them now as we can get TV through Freeview, Sky, BT, Virgin, TalkTalk, etc I presume the oscillator detection method, if true, has packed up and died?


Yes, local oscillator radiation, easy back in the 60s and 70s, when the only RF emitters in a domestic environment were radios and TVs. Today, far more difficult, loads of RF pollution, and heterodyne tuners (that use a local oscillator) are largely a thing of the past, it's all DSP, Fourier transforms, and software decoding now (That's why your phone can be so small ! )
Riaz398 posts since 6 Jan 2016
TV detector vans definitely existed with working detection machinery inside them. It was basically a form of spectrum analyser connected to two antennas on the roof of the vehicle and a cunning piece of trigonometry was used to pinpoint the position of a TV to an accuracy of just a few feet. They worked by detecting spurious RF emissions from the local oscillator in the UHF tuner. Over the years the average power of local oscillator emissions decreased due to improvements in design of TV tuners and increasing concern for EMC by manufacturers. There was some leaked information from TVL that TVs manufactured after the EU EMC directive came into force in the 1990s would be difficult to detect due to a very low maximum permitted limit of EMI and there was no exception to the directive to enable TVs to be detected by detector vans.

These are all relics of the analogue era now and I'm not confident that detector vans with working detection machinery exist any more. A few years ago I encountered a goon from TVL staring through a front window with binoculars.
Mike W4,678 posts since 30 Apr 2006

These are all relics of the analogue era now and I'm not confident that detector vans with working detection machinery exist any more. A few years ago I encountered a goon from TVL staring through a front window with binoculars.

Which is another interesting note: If you withdrew any operative from TVL's implied permission to enter a front garden could you take a civil suit for trespass? Or more worryingly, breaching Article 8, respect for private, family life and home and correspondence.
It could be viewed that it's directed surveillance, would they need a RIPA authority?

Who is holding the contractor or TVL to account? Would make quite an interesting panorama episode!