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In last week's White Paper on the future of the BBC, the Culture Secretary; John Whittingdale confirmed that watching TV without a valid TV licence will continue to be a criminal offence. At present, 13% (approx 180,000 cases) that go before the magistrates each year are in relation to TV licence evasion. In the consultation paper it was stated that 'more guidance' was required in relation to this offence together with 'proposed culpability factors'. Presently, the Sentencing Council are undertaking a large-scale revamp of sentencing rules for 27 common offences dealt with by the magistrates and if approval is given, the new sentences will take effect in the autumn. Yesterday, it was announced that substantial changes are being proposed by the Sentencing Council in relation to TV licence evasion. These proposals (if approved) could see many of the fines significantly increased, and in many cases....doubled. The most significant part of the Sentencing Council's proposals concerns the new 'culpability factors'. Under the proposal, the crime will be considered more serious if the individual: Has not tried to buy a licence; If they have tried to evade detection; Have additional subscription television service (Sky, BT TV, Netflix or Amazon) The effect will be that JPs will consider that an individual who is a Sky, Netflix, Amazon or BT TV subscriber will have committed a Category Two crime rather than the lesser Category Three offence for which they would currently be guilty. For individuals who have failed to pay for a TV licence for more than six months the offence will be Category One, which would mean the fine would be at the top of the Band B range.
With over 3.5 million Liability Orders being issued each year for arrears of council tax, this new thread is of huge importance as the following proposal from the government will affect many thousands of council tax payers. For this reason I would hope that the moderators will allow this thread to remain on the main section of the forum for a few days before transferring it to the new 'bailiff discussion' section. Today the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced that they have issued a Consultation paper regarding proposals to extend the data sharing facility with HMRC to enable them to share data pertaining to higher income debtors. The purpose of which is to enable the local authority to make an attachment of earnings order against the debtors employer.