As regular readers will be aware, the TV Licensing Blog has grave concerns about the manner in which TV Licensing goons earn lucrative commission payments on top of their modest basic salary.
The BBC is fully aware of these concerns, but dismissively shrugs its shoulders claiming that goon terms of employment are "an operational matter for TV Licensing". The BBC, remember, as the statutory Licensing Authority, retains full responsibility for all aspects relating to the collection, administration and enforcement of the TV licence fee.
We have just become aware of a letter between the BBC Trust and Gordon Henderson MP. Mr Henderson, who represents the good people of Sittingbourne & Sheppey, wrote to the BBC Trust with a series of concerns raised by a constituent.
In the interests of transparancy, a concept fairly alien to the BBC, we shall disclose that the consituent in question was a well-regarded member of the TV Licence Resistance forums, who goes by the username of Cornucopia.
The BBC Trust has just sent its reply to Mr Henderson, which he in turn has relayed to his constituent, Cornucopia.
In our opinion the BBC Trust's letter, dated 29th March 2016, is cleverly worded to wrongly reassure Mr Henderson that TV Licensing goons are not rewarded for collecting prosecution evidence (e.g. taking "Code 8" prosecution statements from suspected TV licence fee evaders).
The letter states: "To be clear, TVL Visiting Officers receive some commission for TV licences purchased when a household is visited. In our view, the means of remunerating officers is an operational matter for TVL, given that the way they carry out their role is governed by a strict code of practice issued by TVL and by the general law.
"Commission is not payable according to any prosecutions brought. The decision on whether to prosecute is brought on a case-by-case basis working to Crown Prosecution Service guidelines.
"The BBC's position is that the prosecution does not proceed unless evidential and public interest tests are satisfied and that TV Licensing prosecutes only as a last resort when it has exhausted all other options. The majority of first time offenders are not prosecuted if they buy a licence before their court date."
As mentioned in our previous article, we have documentary evidence confirming a full-time TV Licensing goon is expected to obtain 38 Code 8 prosecution statements every working week. That same evidence confirms that unless a goon obtains that number of Code 8 prosecution statements, they will not be eligible for any sort of commission payment based on their licence sales. Furthermore, a goon failing to achieve their weekly quota of Code 8s is liable to disciplinary action.
A TV Licensing witness statement, tendered in evidence at a Liverpool Crown Court appeal hearing in December 2010, noted the following: "A full-time Visiting Officer employed for 37.5 hours weekly would be expected to achieve the basic performance standards of 1 licence evader caught every 60 minutes during available hours in any working week. This equates to 38 in a full week. Officers would be expected to achieve that standard of performance as part of their normal duties.
"Payment of commission for any licence sales is secondary to the meeting of the performance standards of 1 evader per hour. Any such additional payment is held aside to be paid if that performance standard is met on a monthly basis."
The statement continued: "The value of commission per sale increases as the numbers of Code 8 cases submitted increases. There are 4 levels of payment per sale linked directly to the number of Code 8 cases submitted."
In our opinion, the BBC Trust has been selective in its information to Mr Henderson, in an effort to disguise the worrying link between "evaders caught" and "commission earned". TV Licensing's appeal submission is quite clear that commission will only be paid if a goon manages to achieve their weekly quota of Code 8s. Furthermore, a goon will receive greater commission if they obtain a greater number of Code 8s than the weekly minimum.
By our reckoning, which the BBC Trust clearly disagrees with, this system means there is a clear financial incentive for TV Licensing goons to obtain, by fair means or foul, as many Code 8 prosecution statements as possible.
We are concerned that the BBC Trust appears to have given an incomplete account of goon commission payments in its correspondence with a Member of Parliament. Rest assured that the complete picture will be brought to Mr Henderson's attention very shortly.
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