statistics on TV licence inspectors entering homes since start of lockdown

The request was refused by British Broadcasting Corporation.

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

Please state the number of occasions after 23rd March 2020 when one or more persons working as inspectors for TV Licensing (whether as employees or contractors) have visited residential premises in order to conduct an inspection and either:
- (i) entered those premises, or
- (ii) attempted or requested to enter those premises (but did not enter them)

If possible, please can you provide separate totals for (i) and (ii), but otherwise please provide a combined total.

Please also provide a copy of guidance given to inspectors in relation to COVID-19 safety for inspections.

If you do not have this exact information but you have substantially similar information, then please state the nature of the information that you do have. An example would be if you have monthly totals only.

Yours faithfully,

Perry Icso

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear Perry Icso,

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as detailed in your email below. Your request was received on 10 September 2020.  We will deal with your request as promptly as possible, and at the latest within 20 working days. If you have any queries about your request, please contact us at the address below.

The reference number for your request is RFI20201405.

Kind regards,

Information Rights

BBC Freedom of Information
BC2 A4, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane
London W12 7TP

www.bbc.co.uk/foi
Email: [BBC request email]

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Enquiries,

A gentle reminder that this query is approaching the absolute latest for response. I do not intend to discuss here whether or not a reply at this stage complies with the primary legal obligation to reply promptly, but in any case the backstop of 20 working days is a hard deadline, and expires on 8th October.

Yours sincerely,

Perry Icso

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Isco

                                            

Please find attached the response to your request for information,
reference RFI20201405.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Rights

 

BBC Freedom of Information

BC2 A4, Broadcast Centre

201 Wood Lane

London W12 7TP

 

Website: [1]www.bbc.co.uk/foi

Email: [2]mailto:[BBC request email]

[3]Description: Description: \\BBCFS2025\UserData$\myrien01\Documents\My
Pictures\BBC.png

 

 

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/www.bbc.co.uk/foi
2. mailto:[BBC request email]

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Isco

                                            

Please find attached the response to your request for information,
reference RFI20201405.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Rights

 

BBC Freedom of Information

BC2 A4, Broadcast Centre

201 Wood Lane

London W12 7TP

 

Website: [1]www.bbc.co.uk/foi

Email: [2]mailto:[BBC request email]

[3]Description: Description: \\BBCFS2025\UserData$\myrien01\Documents\My
Pictures\BBC.png

 

 

 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/www.bbc.co.uk/foi
2. mailto:[BBC request email]
4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/

Dear FOI Enquiries,

Thank you for your reply to my enquiry. However, I am writing to request an internal review.

The basis of the review is as follows.

I accept that you are correct to apply a public interest test. I also broadly accept your stated factors in favour of withholding the information (to the extent that third parties might try to misuse the information -- I hope you're not implying that I would do so myself). However, you have failed to state the most important factor in favour of disclosure, described below, and as such, your whole exercise of balancing the factors in favour of disclosure versus withholding is inevitably flawed.

The background to this is of course that we are currently still in the midst of a contagious disease crisis that is unprecedented in the last 100 years, and that your inspectors will be visiting homes where people may have all sorts of medical conditions unknown to the inspectors, which increase their vulnerability to the virus, and whilst safety measures can mitigate the risk of transmission they cannot eliminate it. Notwithstanding government advice for people to resume working where possible, there is a significant difference between a resident arranging for a home visit from (say) a tradesperson -- where the resident has made an informed decision as to whether the level of risk of exposure is appropriate to their level of vulnerability -- and a situation where residents have not made such a decision but are forced involuntarily to allow a person to enter their home under threat of adverse consequences if the entry is denied. Against that background, for the public to be able to assess whether the licensing authority is exercising its functions appropriately and proportionately, the question arises whether the number of these involuntary home visits is being kept to an absolute minimum. There is a vital public interest in ensuring this, and without your disclosing the figures it is impossible to monitor. In your response, your entire consideration of the question of appropriate and proportionate exercise of your functions was limited to "business-as-usual" types of issues, and completely fails to address the fact that under the current circumstances this factor weighs far more strongly in favour of disclosure than would usually be the case. In particular, the things you list which might ordinarily address the public interest factors in favour of disclosure, such as your interactions with the National Audit Office, are not relevant to the issue of COVID safety.

I am therefore writing to request that you repeat the exercise, this time properly taking into account the considerations described above.

If you find in favour of disclosure this time, then (especially because of the passage of time since my original request) please state clearly the time period to which figures from 4th August relate. I would ask if possible that they are up to the time when you respond. You would be within your rights to give figures only up to the date of my original request (10th September), but that might lead to a further request for the later figures.

If you still find against disclosure, then that is your right, but please understand that I might then ask the ICO whether you have properly assessed the arguments in favour of disclosure which I have put to you now, in addition to the ones which you stated originally.

Yours sincerely,

Perry Icso
(note spelling - misspelt in your earlier response)

Perry Icso left an annotation ()

Followup request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t... is related to this one.

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Perry Icso,

Please find attached the BBC's internal review of its FOI response to you.

Sincerely,

Information Rights
BBC Legal

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Enquiries,

Thank you for the internal review.

I note that you have upheld your original decision to withhold the information. However, despite some obvious disappointment, I do broadly accept the point made in your review, that the COVID safety concerns are addressed by the fact that inspectors are not entering homes but remain outside and keep a 2-metre distance at all times. (As you indicate, this information was disclosed in your reply to my followup question, received after I requested the internal review.) In view of this, I accept that the overall balance between public interest arguments in favour of and against disclosure is not altered by COVID, and I do not currently intend to appeal your decision.

However, I would like to stress that this acceptance is contingent on inspectors actually continuing to refrain from entering homes for the duration of the pandemic, however long that may turn out to be. If it were later to come to light that this situation had changed in any way, then there would be a very strong public interest in knowing how often your inspectors were entering homes during the pandemic, in which case I would ask the question again and not be satisfied with a refusal. Hopefully this situation will not arise.

I address this last comment both to the FOI team and also to TV Licensing, so would be grateful if you will please forward it on as appropriate.

Yours sincerely,

Perry Icso

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear Mr Perry Isco,

 

Thank you for your email.

 

We have passed this to the BBC TV Licensing team.

 

Sincerely

 

Information Rights

BBC Legal

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Enquiries,

Thank you for forwarding the message -- appreciated.

(As an aside, you misspelt my name yet again.)

Yours sincerely,
Perry Icso