Licence Free Title
Licence Free Title

The Great Warrant Hoax

... TV Licensing's ultimate weapon (or is it?)

Best served rare

The Warrant is supposedly BBC/TVL's ultimate threat, and for once, it is actually supported by legislation.

However, TVL being TVL, there are still questions about how they operate them. The most important thing about warrants, though, is how rare they are. And when we say rare, we mean really, really rare.

Figures leaked by the BBC show around 100 Warrants executed every year, for the entirety of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. There are none in Scotland.

The Evidence Hoax

As with the Police, Magistrates are somewhat soft on the grounds for issuing Warrants to BBC/TVL. So, although very few are issued, quite often they are wrongly issued, and the legal requirement for "reasonable suspicion" of an offence is often not fulfilled in our opinion. This suspicion is strengthened by training materials leaked from BBC/TVL showing a number of dubious example reasons for requesting a Warrant.

Having said all of this, the problem for the legimately unlicensed population is that Warrants remain an important legal device - a Court order, effectively. The best advice is to calmly allow them to proceed. Obstructing a warrant (physically or verbally) is a more serious offence than Licence evasion.

Warrant Scope

Although a TVL Warrant is a powerful device, its powers are still constrained. It provides:- Be aware that although the number of warrants is very low, they often fail to uncover evidence of evasion. in those cases, TVL seem to like to bring Obstruction charges as a "consolation prize".

The Interview Hoax

Even with a Warrant tucked into their back pocket, BBC/TVL are still not without their weaknesses. Evidence suggests that they will try to bluster their way from their rights to search for and examine AV equipment (which are covered by the warrant) into imposing an Interview under Caution on you (which is not covered by the warrant and is a breach of PACE).

On the contrary, you retain ALL of your normal rights when being interviewed under Caution during the execution of a warrant, not only that, but if the Police are there, they should help explain your PACE rights to TVL, if you ask them calmly and politely.

Of the 10 "S"s, the following apply or apply in a modified way:-
You also have the right to film proceedings, which can be useful, and the right to have an independent witness present as long as fetching them does not delay the warrant significantly.

It also seems likely that you do not have to give them your name, although there is uncertainty about that. The Police may try to compel you (order you) to give your name, in which case you can ask them why. If they persist or their reasoning sounds vague, you could ask them to refer the matter to a more senior officer. The point of principle is that neither Licence evasion or TVL Warrant obstruction are offences "of concern" to the Police, and there is no power of arrest. On that basis, their ability to compel someone's name would appear to be limited. Without a name, TVL will struggle to make a case even if other evidence is compelling (though they may already know who you are).

Copyright free - content may be freely re-used to resist the TV Licence
Produced using the excellent W3.CSS development framework