The Sentencing Council looks set to review the penalties recommended for those convicted of TV licence evasion.
According to statute, the maximum penalty for the offence of TV licence evasion is a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale, which is currently £1,000 maximum.
However, the current (March 2016) edition of the Council's Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines, available to view here, recommends that Magistrates impose a maximum fine at band B, which is the equivalent of 100% of the offender's recommended weekly income. Unless the offender is very well paid, which is unlikely for a TV licence evader, this band B figure is likely to be far less than the £1,000 theoretical maximum.
Under new proposals, the Council wants the offence of TV licence evasion to be considered more serious when the offender has made no attempt to obtain a licence, has actively tried to evade detection or has an additional subscription TV service.
Council member Jill Gramann said: "Our revision of the guidelines will ensure magistrates in England and Wales have clear guidance using a consistent approach to help them sentence fairly and proportionately.
"We are keen to hear people's views of our proposed changes, whether they are magistrates, others working in the criminal justice system or anyone else with an interest in this area of sentencing."
Around 3,000 people a week are hauled before Magistrates' Courts in England and Wales on TV licence evasion charges. TV licence cases account for around 13% of all court time.
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