TV Detection Equipment and Search Warrant Applications

The request was refused by Ministry of Justice.

Dear Ministry of Justice,

In August 2010, a Mr Heather wrote to TV Licensing™ (see http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2vty1xl&...) advising them that he did not require a television licence as he does not receive or record live television broadcasts. I would like to draw your attention to the opening sentence: "I do not require a television licence, as I do not receive or record live television Broadcasts". Please note that he is not claiming not to have a television set at his premises.

You don't need a licence if you don't use any of these devices to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV - for example, if you use your TV only to watch DVDs or play video games, or you only watch ‘catch up’ services like BBC iPlayer or 4oD. See: http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-yo...

On the basis of the above quote from the TVL official website I hope you will agree there are many ways to watch a TV and remain legally licence-free.

On the 28th of June 2011 an application for a Section 366 Search Warrant was made to a local magistrates' court claiming, under oath, reasonable grounds to believe that an offence was being committed.

Here are links to the Search Warrant application:

Paragraphs 1-5 http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=10mmmop&...
Paragraphs 6-11 http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=auz4ac&a...

Paragraphs 2, 5 and 6 are of particular interest

2) In a letter from "The Legal Occuppier" dated the 10th August 2010, the correspondent stated that they did not have a television set at his premises...

5) A television display generates light at specific frequencies. Some of that light escapes through windows usually after being reflected from one or more walls of the room in which the television is situated. The optical detector in the detector van uses a large lens to collect that light and focus it on to an especially sensitive device, which converts fluctuating light levels into electrical signals, which can be electronically analysed. If a receiver is being used to watch broadcast programmes then a positive reading is returned. The device gives a confidence factor in percentage terms, which is determined by the strength of the signal received by the detection equipment and confirms whether or not the source of the signal is a "possible broadcast".

6 On the 31st March 2011 at 18.36 hours the detector van was positioned near the Premises. When the detector camera was pointed at the window of the Premises a positive signal was received indicating a TV receiver was in use receiving a possible broadcast with a confidence factor of 97%. A television aerial and a satellite dish was also seen affixed to the Premises.

Paragraph 2 was perjurious as the letter only states that Mr Heather does not receive or record live television Broadcasts. Furthermore, this lie would doubtlessly influence the JP's decision when weighing the alleged dishoesty of the letter against the 'detection evidence' of paragraphs 5 and 6.

Before addressing paragraphs 5 and 6, please consider the following. TV Licensing's Mark Whitehouse featured on BBC Radio Northampton's Stuart Linnell show on 4th July 2011. The following is an excerpt from the transcript relating to their detection equipment:
---------------------------
SL: “Can it even work out which channel they’re watching?”

MW: “It doesn’t tell us what they’re watching but it tells us which room they’re watching it in, and we can tell that in as little as 20 seconds. Again, we’re keen people don’t take that risk. We’re keen that people do realise their obligations and don’t run the risk being caught watching telly if they’re unlicensed.”
---------------------------
As you can see, the detection equipment does not show what is being watched, so is only capable of detecting if a TV or monitor is switched on. It therefore can't distinguish live broadcasts from DVDs, wedding videos, screensavers, YouTube, CatchUp, photo galleries etc. The "possible broadcast" outlined in paragraphs 5 and 6 could be any of these things.

As for the aerial/dish mentioned in paragraph 6, this is not evidence of evasion. The following is from a recent BBC FOI response:
---------------------------
You asked the following question:

“Is there any legal/lawful objection to a cash-strapped household taking a 1 year “TV Licence Fee Holiday” by simply switching off their fully functional TV and ensuring that, without exception, it remains switched off for a 12 month period, thereby spending the entire year never using it to watch or record live programming as it is broadcast?”

The answer in response is:

There is no objection to a household taking this decision.

Legally, the ownership of a television receiver does not require a TV Licence. Therefore if you choose not to switch your television receiver on for twelve months, you do not need a TV Licence during that period. Under the Communications Act 2003, a TV Licence is only required to watch or record live television programmes.

I trust that this has provided a clear answer to your question.
---------------------------
Living legally licence-free does not require the removal of old aerials and dishes.

In summation there is nothing of credit in this Search Warrant Application to support reasonable suspicion of illegal activity, yet it was granted nonetheless. Mr Heather was cleared of wrongdoing as no evidence of evasion was found.

This is the only Search Warrant Application I've seen, however I am led to understand that others have been granted on properties which have turned out to be empty!

I am concerned that Capita (the debt-collection agency used by the BBC to enforce licensing) are abusing the BBC's right under Section 366(1) of the Communications Act 2003 to apply for warrants, by applying for Search Warrants that constitute little more than 'fishing expeditions'.

I am concerned that Search Warrant Applications contain 'sexed up' and spurious 'detection evidence' that would not survive scrutiny in a court of law.

I am concerned that JPs are blinded by woolly science and mischievous wording in their consideration of these warrants, and that no effort has been, or is being, made to rectify this.

I would like all JPs to be made fully aware of the limitations of detection equipment, especially that such equipment gives the same positive reading when a DVD is being watched on a TV as it would if the TV were receiving live broadcasts. Search warrants should not be issued on the basis of such evidence.

I hope you concur with my opinion that Mr Heather had his right to privacy abused and would like to ensure that, with your help, such abuses are not allowed to continue. I also hope that you agree with my own view that making the choice to stop watching live TV should not attract corporate court-backed harrassment and home invasion.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, please provide as many examples of approved Section 366 Search Warrant Applications (where detector evidence was included) as you reasonably can obtain within the budgetary confines set out by the FOI act. Please, of course, redact any personal information contained therein.

Outside of this FOI request I would also appreciate your assurance that the concerns outlined in the rest of this letter are taken seriously, and that positive steps will be taken to educate your JPs.

Yours faithfully,

D Westwood

Lark, Alex,

1 Attachment

Please find attached the acknowledgement of your freedom of information
act request.

 

Kind regards,

 

Alex

 

Alex Lark

.

Crime Directorate Support Unit

.

Her Majesty's Courts & Tribunals Service - Supporting our people, courts &
processes

2.21, 2nd Floor, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ. Tel: 0203 334 4057

 

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
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D Westwood left an annotation ()

TVL inside story?

"Training consists of sales training and how to achieve targets efficiently. There are no vans owned by TV licensing. These are owned by a 3rd party, and the last I can remember there were only 4 left. on rare instances, where sales are low and there is a high unlicensed area (done by searching postal code on the system) there would be instances where it was/is justified to send out a van, which would typically have 3-4 employee's inside to cover several addresses within 1 week. Some people have handheld GPS to locate difficult addresses, which is encouraged as potential customers we are told in training mistaken these for handheld TV detection devices No one at TV licensing has EVER used TV detection equipment, nor discussed it although one time, I can recall the department manager complaining due to TV licensing having to provide the full amount to purchase outdated IT servers and non functioning equipment to place upon one of the vans for a PR piece the BBC were doing, as well as provide partial payments to cover the advertising - Although this was stretched to a full year until the contract renewal. This was said to increase sales for us without us having to do anything. We would also use profits to help pay for specific court cases to be publicised as this help increase revenue as was proven by weekly sales meetings where charts and figures were presented.

In the van, employee's have a non-live database to use for reference. No equipment has ever been in the vans other than GPS, panasonic toughbooks, and possibly an MP3 player None of the employee's are trained engineers, or technicians and in fact all of their internal IT is outsourced. Even if they ever did have the equipment, the costs of training and hiring an engineer for 1 week every 4 months just wouldn't be worth it. All we are is office staff with a database of address information, nothing more. There is no Sci-Fi technology that TV licensing used and it never has been. I would love to see it though. It's as legendary as the Loch Ness monster."

Quoted from: http://www.getoutofdebtfree.org/forum/vi...

Lark, Alex,

1 Attachment

Please find attached the reply to your Freedom of Information act request.

 

Kind regards,

 

Alex

 

Alex Lark 

Knowledge & Information Liasion Officer│ HM Courts & Tribunals Service
│Crime Directorate  

2.21, 2nd Floor, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ

Tel: 0203 334 4057

 

This e-mail (and any attachment) is intended only for the attention of
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is not permitted. If you are not the intended recipient, please destroy
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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Dear Alex Lark,

I request an internal review.

Section 32 should not be applied if personal information is redacted and the search warrants in question are no longer active.

The issuing of a search warrant without reasonable suspicion is illegal under human rights law. If agents of the BBC are routinely applying for, and gaining, such warrants, the public needs to know.

The BBC's power to apply for a search warrant under section 366 of the Comms Act is such an unusual privilege for a corporation to have, it must be exercised responsibly every single time. Refusing this request would suggest there is no accountability whatsoever.

If this review is refused, as almost all are, I seek assurance that an investigation is carried out internally with regard to these SW applications to establish if the unlawful Heather warrant is the tip of the iceberg and abuse of section 366 is widespread.

Yours sincerely,

D Westwood

Lark, Alex,

Thank you for your e-mail. I am currently out of the office until Thursday 22 August 2013. If your e-mail is urgent please forward it to Jo May, otherwise I will reply to your e-mail when I return to the office.

Kind regards,

Alex Lark
PA to Director of Crime & Enforcement
Crime Directorate Support Unit

This e-mail (and any attachment) is intended only for the attention of
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jimmy3 left an annotation ()

It could also be argued that no contract was entered into. If taken to court on TV Licensing then ensure the court uses Common Law by stating "I claim Common Law jurisdiction". Do not say anything in court which could enter you into a contract with the court.

When asked by the judge how do you plead, your response should be "I do not consent and I waive the benefits".

This means you do not consent to them making any legal determinations against you. You do not consent to their jurisdictional claims against you and you do not consent to them contracting with you.

The judge has no other choice but to dismiss the case.

D Westwood left an annotation ()

Hi jimmy3- interesting as it is, I don't really subscribe to the freeman stuff. There's some enlightening info on Wikipedia that's enough to make one think twice!

Nevertheless, potential court appearances aren't relevant to this FOI request. It is solely concerned with frivolous search warrant applications.

HMCTS Customer Service (Correspondence),

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Acknowledgement letter to D Westwood Re IR 84902 dated 2 September 2013.PDF.pdf

    26K Download View as HTML

Dear Sir/Madam

Please find attached my acknowledgement of your Internal Review request to HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) in respect of your freedom of information act request under ref:83809.

Yours faithfully

Anisul Haque
HM Courts & Tribunals Service - Complaints, Correspondence & Litigation Team
1.10, First Floor, 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9AJ | DX 152380 Westminster 8

This e-mail (and any attachment) is intended only for the attention of
the addressee(s). Its unauthorised use, disclosure, storage or copying
is not permitted. If you are not the intended recipient, please destroy all
copies and inform the sender by return e-mail.

Internet e-mail is not a secure medium. Any reply to this message
could be intercepted and read by someone else. Please bear that in
mind when deciding whether to send material in response to this message
by e-mail.

This e-mail (whether you are the sender or the recipient) may be
monitored, recorded and retained by the Ministry of Justice. E-mail
monitoring / blocking software may be used, and e-mail content may be
read at any time. You have a responsibility to ensure laws are not
broken when composing or forwarding e-mails and their contents.

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FAO: Anisul Haque
REF: FOI- 84902 (83809) OPR/055/002/002/112

Dear HMCTS Customer Service (Correspondence),

Thanks for your acknowledgement.

Here are some additional public interest notes to consider:-

The following excerpts are from the police guidelines on search warrant applications:
---------------------
(5) The applicant officer must provide all the relevant information, including that which undermines the application

In R (Energy Financing Team) v Bow Street Magistrates’ Court [2006] 1 WLR 1317, the court made it clear in a Practice Note that “it is the duty of the applicant to give full assistance to the [court] and that includes drawing to his or her attention anything that militates against the issue of a warrant”.

Non-disclosure in bad faith will automatically invalidate the warrant. Non-disclosure in good faith may invalidate the warrant, but only if the information that was not brought to the magistrate’s attention would have made a difference to the outcome.
----------------------
In the Section 366 application for a search warrant against Mr Heather (outlined in my original request), the Capita agent's affidavit claims that the detection equipment established:

"a TV receiver was in use receiving a possible broadcast
with a confidence factor of 97%".

This language seems to suggest a 97% probability that live programming was being watched.

We now know that detection equipment is unable to differentiate between a TV showing live broadcasts and other licence-exempt viewing activity such as DVDs, CatchUp, video gaming etc.

I believe that if magistrates were made aware of this they would not be signing such warrants. Failing to mention this in warrant applications must surely render them spurious, and a matter of grave public concern.

Yours sincerely,

D Westwood

keith left an annotation ()

We now know that detection equipment is unable to differentiate
between a TV showing live broadcasts and other licence-exempt
viewing activity such as DVDs, CatchUp, video gaming etc.

can you tell me please with a link where the above statement has been confirmed

thanks

D Westwood left an annotation ()

Keith- this is from the original request at the top of this page:

TV Licensing's Mark Whitehouse featured on BBC Radio
Northampton's Stuart Linnell show on 4th July 2011. The following
is an excerpt from the transcript relating to their detection
equipment:
---------------------------
SL: “Can it even work out which channel they’re watching?”

MW: “It doesn’t tell us what they’re watching but it tells us which
room they’re watching it in, and we can tell that in as little as
20 seconds. Again, we’re keen people don’t take that risk. We’re
keen that people do realise their obligations and don’t run the
risk being caught watching telly if they’re unlicensed.”
---------------------------

HMCTS Customer Service (Correspondence),

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Formal Internal Review 84902 response to D Westwood 19 September 2013.pdf

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Dear Sir / Madam

Please find attached my formal response to your Internal Review request to HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) in respect of your freedom of information act request under ref:83809.

Yours faithfully

Anisul Haque
HM Courts & Tribunals Service - Complaints, Correspondence & Litigation Team 1.10, First Floor, 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9AJ | DX 152380 Westminster 8

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FAI Anisul Haque:

I have contacted the Information Commissioner's Office helpline for advice on your Section 30 refusal. They were of the opinion that Section 30 is not a blanket exemption and that the search warrant affidavit examples I have requested are reasonable except in the event that:

a) Execution of the search warrant led to a prosecution.
b) The search warrant was signed by a magistrate at his/her home.

According to the ICO, Section 30 does not exempt information held by courts in situations where a prosecution is merely contemplated.

Please reconsider my request and supply as many examples of Capita's TV Licensing search warrant applications as can be reasonably afforded within the FOI act budgetary limits, redacting personal information where necessary, and (if and where necessary) excluding warrants that were signed in a magistrates home or warrants that, when executed, led to the instigation of criminal proceedings.

Yours sincerely,

D Westwood

FAO Anisul Haque:

I am resending the following message as the previous one was either lost or ignored. Please acknowledge receipt.
================================
I have contacted the Information Commissioner's Office helpline for
advice on your Section 30 refusal. They were of the opinion that
Section 30 is not a blanket exemption and that the search warrant
affidavit examples I have requested are reasonable except in the
event that:

a) Execution of the search warrant led to a prosecution.
b) The search warrant was signed by a magistrate at his/her home.

According to the ICO, Section 30 does not exempt information held
by courts in situations where a prosecution is merely contemplated.

Please reconsider my request and supply as many examples of
Capita's TV Licensing search warrant application affidavits (where detection evidence was included) as can be
reasonably afforded within the FOI act budgetary limits, redacting
personal information where necessary, and (if and where necessary)
excluding warrants that were signed in a magistrates home or
warrants that, when executed, led to the instigation of criminal
proceedings.

Yours sincerely,

D Westwood

HMCTS Customer Service (Correspondence),

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your email below. Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding to your earlier email. I appreciate you forwarding the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO's) comments regarding section 30 of the FOIA. However, as you may note, the HMCTS decision was based on Section 32 of the FOIA. I am therefore, not minded to reconsider the internal review decision, dated 19 September 2013.

Yours faithfully

Anisul Haque
HM Courts & Tribunals Service - Complaints, Correspondence & Litigation Team 1.10, First Floor, 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9AJ | DX 152380 Westminster 8

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FAO Anisul Haque:

Yes- Section 32, sorry.

The exemption only applies in the event of actual proceedings, not contemplated proceedings. The guidelines are clear on this.

On that basis, please supply the information requested within the set guidelines.

Yours sincerely,

D Westwood

HMCTS Customer Service (Correspondence),

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your email and for the clarification. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to your email. Having considered your request below, I am sorry to inform you that I am not persuaded to reconsider the internal review decision, dated 19 September 2013.

If you remain dissatisfied with our decision, you may wish to appeal to Information Commissioner's Office. Details can be found in the 'How to Appeal' section attached at the end of the Internal Review decision letter.

Yours sincerely

Anisul Haque | HM Courts & Tribunals Service - Complaints, Correspondence & Litigation Team
1.10, First Floor, 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9AJ | DX 152380 Westminster 8

show quoted sections

Max Headroom left an annotation ()

Re,
"....I should also add that Section 366 Search Warrants are authorised by Magistrates and as such constitutes judicial decisions. HMCTS is not aware of any abuse of section 366 Search Warrant Applications and does not intend to conduct any internal investigation into this matter..."

The above suggests that HMCTS have been sufficiently hoodwinked into believing Magistrates' courts are something other than unlawfully operating money making factories dotted around the country.

Grimsby Magistrates Abetting Fraud.....

http://www.scribd.com/doc/178966839/Grim...