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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Capita TV Licensing Court Presenters' Manual

The BBC has just released the Capita TV Licensing Court Presenters' Manual in response to a Freedom of Information request made by the TV Licensing Blog.

You can be fairly confident that the BBC would have preferred to keep the information under wraps, so please be sure to download your own copy and share it with your friends.

We are currently reading the document closely and hope to provide a more comprehensive commentary later in the week. 

We are immediately struck by Capita TV Licensing's policy to chase prosecution costs from everyone convicted of TV licence evasion, which includes some of the most vulnerable and financially-stretched people in society.

Remember that all prosecution costs awarded by the court go directly into Capita TV Licensing's pocket, so it has a clear pecuniary advantage in pressing for inflated costs at every opportunity.

We also note that in the case of botched or abandoned TV Licensing court proceedings, Capita always plays the "honest mistake" card to ensure that the public-purse picks up any defence costs awarded by the court.

6 comments:

Richard said...

Observations:

1) turning up at court will cost you money - at the very least, travel expenses and the cost of your time. The only way to get this money back is to win the case and ask for costs. You won't get that opportunity if you tell the Court Presenter you intend to plead "not guilty" and he then quietly drops your case. So if you want your money back, don't tell him anything. It may even be possible to avoid telling him anything without being rude - a laudable goal. Save it for the Magistrate.
2) When applying for costs, if at all possible you should make it clear to the Magistrates that the prosecution's "evidence" consists entirely of misinterpreting your refusal to play the game of entering into correspondence with them every couple of years. (By way of parallel, you don't have to write to the Home Office every two years to say that you continue not to need a shotgun licence.) The prosecution is therefore frivolous, and not the result of an "honest mistake".
3) The redactions from this manual are curious. I can understand them obscuring the author's name, but why are they hiding the other stuff?

Anonymous said...

The section (4.1) concerning the Police And Criminal Evidence Act is an interesting read.......

Fred Bear said...

I wonder why they've redacted sections of the law that are available online. As Anonymous says above it's interesting that they've felt the need to cut a section on page 19 from the Police and Criminal Evidence Act which can be found at:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1984/60/section/76

The part cut says:

'the court shall not allow the confession to be given in evidence against him except in so far as the prosecution proves to the court beyond reasonable doubt that the confession (notwithstanding that it may be true) was not obtained as aforesaid.'

(3)In any proceedings where the prosecution proposes to give in evidence a confession made by an accused person, the court may of its own motion require the prosecution, as a condition of allowing it to do so, to prove that the confession was not obtained as mentioned in subsection (2) above.

I am not a lawyer but the meaning would seem to be that if a defendant claims that someone put pressure on them to sign a false confession, or confused them about the statement so that it is unreliable, then it is up to the Capita Court Presenter to prove otherwise. Of course if the goon who took the statement is not in court, that could be tricky, very tricky.

The Magistrates Court Act partly redacted on page 11 can be found at:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1980/43/contents

It's not so obvious here what has been cut out - it might be some of:

Evidence in criminal cases
102. Written statements before examining justices.
103. Evidence of persons under 14 in committal proceedings for assault, sexual offences etc.
104. Proof of previous convictions.
105. Deposition of person dangerously ill.
Offences
106. False written statements tendered in evidence.
107. False statements in declaration proving service, etc.

It's telling that on page 9, the BBC has cut out a section on basic human rights of defendants before a court. The Human Rights Act incorporates into UK Law Section 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In particular:

'Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed
innocent until proved guilty according to law.'

See: http://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_ENG.pdf

TheKnightsShield said...

The fact that the BBC has released this document and not TVL should clear up the issue of who makes the big decisions when it comes to the TV licence.

Also, "The BBC just has released..." should read "has just", not "just has". ;)

Admin said...

Thanks TheKnightsShield.
Do you get the impression I was bit rushed when I wrote this?!

TheKnightsShield said...

Maybe a little, but only because of your haste to read the document. It must be riveting stuff; it's from the BBC, afterall. ;)