TV licence fee evasion makes up one in ten UK court cases - surely there's a better way

The licence fee is the best way to finance the BBC - but the high number of cases taken to court shows our criminal justice system is grossly inefficient

Share
Related Topics

I am a supporter of the BBC. It is the worst way of organising broadcasting apart from all the others, even as the population is migrating, like Arctic terns, to iPlayer and YouTube. And I am all for enforcing the law, whether it's a law that right-on bloggers don't like, such as that on cannabis, the stealing of intelligence secrets or TV licences, or one that they do like, such as that on fox-hunting. 

However, when one in ten of all criminal prosecutions is for TV licence evasion, this is further evidence that our criminal justice system is grossly inefficient. This is worse, even, than Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce having to turn up in person at some court or other umpteen times just to confirm their names and addresses or to be told some procedural information that could have been conveyed by text message.

This is 180,000 people a year appearing in front of magistrates and 155,000 of them having to pay for a licence and a fine for not having one in the first place. 

The obvious response is that this is a stupid way of financing the BBC, and, if you are Guido Fawkes, it is a stupid way of financing the BBC with libertarian knobs on: "The TV poll tax is a protection racket pure and simple." 

Well, Guido doesn't like the BBC. But there are lots of people who do like the BBC who are tempted to agree with him. Surely there must be a better way to finance the Corporation, they mutter weakly? No, there isn't. Like the BBC itself, the licence fee is the worst way of financing the BBC apart from any other way. What do you suggest? A levy on broadband subscriptions? 

No, we are stuck with the licence fee for a while yet. And while we are, the law is the law is the law. However, the sheer volume of TV licence prosecutions is surely - like procedural court hearings - ripe for industrialisation. If a business had this number of customers repeating essentially the same transaction, it would simplify it and make it easy for the business and the customer. 

Why can TV Licensing not claim the licence fee and a spot fine on the doorstep? 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

SENCO

£21000 - £36000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: SENCO - Benfleet - J...

Do you want to work in Education?

£55 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you looking to work in Edu...

Nursery Manager

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunity for a nursery manage...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Tory whips have warned the Prime Minister that he could face a Tory revolt over the European arrest warrant  

A bizarre front for the Tories’ campaign against Europe

Nigel Morris
 

Daily catch-up: EU news, and other reasons to be cheerful

John Rentoul
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker