Some people, mainly BBC luvvies and DigitalSpy members, incorrectly believe that George Entwistle was good value for money, Jimmy Savile should be canonised and TV Licensing can do whatever they want.
We might not be able to remove their affection for Entwistle and Savile, but hopefully we can dispel the myth that TV Licensing can act with legal impunity.
One way of holding TV Licensing to account is to ban their employees from stepping foot on your property. This dynamite option, known as Withdrawal of Implied Right of Access (WOIRA), is proving increasingly popular amongst those opposed to TV Licensing's harassment of legitimate non-viewers. WOIRA should, at least in theory, prevent TV Licensing visiting the property, but some people believe it can also have the negative effect of catapulting the occupier further up TV Licensing's interest list. It is also believed that WOIRA makes it more likely that TV Licensing will consider a search warrant, as they have no reasonable prospect of gaining entry to the property voluntarily. For that reason anyone considering WOIRA should weigh up the risks carefully before proceeding.
Here, in words taken directly from the BBC's own policy document, is a quick run down of everything you need to know on the WOIRA process:
1. Right of Access:
"It is well established that an implied right of access to a property exists for those that have a legitimate reason to be on the property. This implied right allows the caller to come to the front door/gate if they have legitimate business with the occupier. If they are asked to leave then the implied right no longer applies."
"Requests to withdraw the implied right of access must be respected as TV Licensing Enquiry Officers would be committing trespass if they visited the address after the right of access had been withdrawn."
3. Name Not Required:
"There is no legal requirement to provide a name when someone withdraws their implied right of access. However, TV Licensing will always request a name as this the best way of ensuring we are corresponding with the occupier."
4. WOIRA Notification:
"Notice of WOIRA is not legally required to be in writing. TV Licensing may receive a notice of WOIRA via either:
- verbally when an enquiry officer is told by an occupant that he has withdrawn the implied right of access.
"Upon receipt of a WOIRA notification, written acknowledgement and an explanation of the policy will be sent to the individual by TV Licensing.
"Regardless of whether a name is provided, once the occupant at an address has notified the BBC or TV Licensing of the withdrawal of the implied right to visit, a WOIRA guard will be applied.
"As withdrawing the implied right of access may be a potential method of evasion, unlicensed WOIRA addressees will be sent bespoke mailings which do not refer to Enquiry Officer visits."
5. Visiting Addresses:
"WOIRA addresses must not be visited.
"Addresses will become available for visits again under a limited number of circumstances, for example if notification is received from the Royal Mail that the occupant has moved away.
"Once an address has given notice of WOIRA then a WOIRA guard will be applied immediately to prevent standard mailings being sent and the address being visited.
"Withdrawing the right to visit can be for an indefinite period. But, as circumstances can change, e.g. when people move house, TV Licensing needs to ensure that such guards continue to be accurate. A confirmation letter asking if the situation remains the same will be sent to unlicensed properties every two years.
"The WOIRA guard will be removed-
- if TV Licensing receives no response to its confirmation letters
- if TV Licensing receives new data that indicates the person who withdrew the implied right of access has moved."
7. Detection and Search Warrant Procedures:
"Given that TV Licensing is unable to visit WOIRA addresses, detection and search warrants will be used as necessary and appropriate. Negative detection results will result in the WOIRA guard being reset and bespoke mailings being stopped for 2 years. Positive detection results will result in further investigations being undertaken."
The appendices of the policy document contain, quite appropriately, a series of idiotproof diagrams showing how the WOIRA policy is to be applied in a range of circumstances.
Hope you're all having an enjoyable festive period. Unless, of course, you're working for the BBC or TV Licensing!
Edit: You can download a template WOIRA letter from our Resources page.
Edit: TV Licensing has recently chosen to disregard all WOIRA instructions issued in relation to Scottish properties, on the basis that the law of tresspass is different in Scotland. Since the policy change was have seen worrying instances where TV Licensing goons have been asked to leave a property, but have refused. Anyone in this situation should call the police and report TV Licensing's threatening behaviour.