Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Television Licensing

To the Legal Occupier,
We're writing to inform you that we have authorised Enforcement Officers to visit your home. If they find evidence that you are watching TV illegally, they can take your statement under caution with the relevant criminal law.
We are taking this step because:
  • According to our records, there is no TV License for this address.
  • You must have a TV License to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV.
  • We have tried to contact you about this, but have received no reply.

An enforcement visit is the first step in our action to seek prosecution. Please be aware that should your case go to court, your statement can be used as evidence. The maximum penalty is a fine of £1,000. We take this offence extremely seriously, and catch around 1,000 evaders every day.

We strongly advise that you act to stop our investigation by buying a TV Licence. You can do this in minutes by visiting or by calling 0844 800 6720. A licence costs £142.50 for colour and £48 for black and white.

Yours faithfully,

Sarah Armstrong

Regional manager

Scotland East Enforcement Team

If you have recently moved home, please transfer your old TV Licence to your new address. You can do this at or by calling 0844 800 6720. Please have your TV Licence number to hand.

If you don't watch TV, please let us know by calling 0844 800 6720.

* * *

Dear Ms. Armstrong,

Normally at this point, I would take the opportunity to thank a correspondent for writing to me. In this case I am unable to do so. I am deeply offended by the tone of the letter that has been sent in your name.

When I bought the property in question on the 19th of June, there was already a letter from the Television Licensing agency on the doormat. This first letter already contained falsehoods: namely that there had been several previous attempts to contact the owners. How could this be when the house is a new-build dwelling, with no previous occupiers? Using the telephone number supplied however, I contacted a member of the television licensing staff to inform the organisation that nobody would be living in the house until mid-August, and that I would be in contact again when my television was moved from my current address.

That should have been the end of the matter. Instead, today I receive another and, to be blunt, a nasty, threatening letter which simultaneously manages to be inaccurate, self-justifying and bullying.

"We have tried to contact you about this, but have received no reply." This is a lie. I refuse to give you the benefit of the doubt because I contacted your organisation over a month ago. Just how long does it take for you to update your records? You have the temerity to threaten me with legal action because of your own incompetence? You advise me to purchase a television license in order to avoid a visit from Enforcement Officers? Send them round! Waste more taxpayers' money why don't you?

What I hate even more is that the letter assumes guilt and it is up to me to prove innocence. Just who do you think you are? You are a civil servant, working on behalf of the British people. You are not a member of the Stasi.

I have taken the liberty of posting your letter and my reply on my website and I am also bringing your tactics to the attention of the media.

I have no regards for you.

Martin Veart.