BBC responds to criticism after 2,500 convicted for not paying TV licence in April | Personal Finance | Finance

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Nearly 2,500 people were reportedly convicted for not paying for their last month.

The TV Licencing, the body that operates the fee, has responded to criticism that the number and the process used to convict these people is “shameful” and unfair.

The Evening Standard’s Tristan Kirk, who shed light on the figures in a post on X, said of the people convicted last month, one was a partially-sighted man with learning disabilities.

Mr Kirk wrote: “Almost 2,500 people were convicted last month in private court hearings for not paying for a TV Licence.

“One was a partially-sighted man from Oldham with learning disabilities. His mum pleaded guilty on his behalf. You wonder what help he got to try to avoid a criminal conviction.”

Media law trainer and consultant David Banks responded: “The prosecution of TV licences should be taken out of the hands of the BBC.

“Prosecuting someone like this is an absolute disgrace and brings shame on the corporation and @‌tvlicensing. Is no-one looking at cases like this and making a humane decision about whether to proceed?” (sic)

An X user responded: “This is not justice.”

Another added: “Insanity. Should never be a court issue. On top of the total injustice is a waste of court time!”

People who watch live TV or BBC iPlayer or face a fine or possible court conviction.

These court cases are typically held out of the public eye with the Single Justice Procedure (SJP), which intends to handle lower-level crime and help speed up the system.

However, members of the Magistrates Association argue the SJP is “flawed” in the way it operates for these cases, highlighting the “harm” it can have when dealing with vulnerable people.

Responding to the thousands of reported convictions in April, a TV Licensing spokesperson told “TV Licensing’s primary aim is to help people stay licensed and prosecution is always a last resort.

“We work to ensure that customers are supported and treated fairly, and offer a range of concessions and payment options.”

They noted that defendants can opt for their cases to be heard in court rather than through the SJP if they wish.

They continued: “We will not prosecute anyone if they provide us with evidence that shows us that there are significant reasons why they couldn’t obtain a licence. These include vulnerabilities including mental or physical ill health and severe financial hardship.”


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