TV Licensing takes positive action on prosecutions
Fay Jones, a spokesperson for TV Licensing in Wales explains:
Issues around gender equality are consistently in the media spotlight, but many people may not be aware of the action being taken by TV Licensing to tackle gender disparity in prosecutions.
The Government’s independent review of TV Licensing enforcement in 2015, found that 70% of all those prosecuted for TV licence evasion were women (2012 figures) but that there was “no evidence of discriminatory enforcement practices on the part of TV Licensing”.
TV Licensing undertook research to investigate the reasons for the gender disparity in prosecutions and found that they were largely due to societal factors outside TV Licensing’s control. For example, there are more female only households then male only households. Women are more likely to be at home and engage positively with enforcement officers when they visit.
Over the last year, TV Licensing has partnered with a number of women’s organisations in Wales to raise awareness of TV Licensing requirements and the different ways women can pay. Our aim is to provide clear advice to those who need it with the hope of reducing the numbers of those caught watching without a licence. Some of the organisations we’ve met with include Chwarae Teg, the North Wales Women’s Centre, and the Women’s Equality Network (WEN) Wales and we also attend the National Assembly’s Cross Party Group on Women to build relationships with other women’s organisations across Wales.
On a national level, TV Licensing has reviewed its policy on women’s refuges and we’ve been promoting this work through our relationship with Welsh Women’s Aid. Refuges are now treated as single licensable places so that a licence in a communal area will cover the whole refuge and
separate TV licences are not required for individual rooms.
We understand how important it is that women feel safe in refuges so if the refuges can notify us of their location, we will ensure that the address will not be visited.
We have also looked at how to help those struggling financially by trialling a scheme called the Simple Payment Plan. This helps customers pay as little as £3 per week for their TV Licence. The plan evenly spreads payments throughout the year and also spreads any missed payments over the remainder of the payment plan.
Although applications for the trial have now closed, TV Licensing will be assessing the success of the scheme over the next two years.
Prosecution is the last resort for TV Licensing and we want to ensure as many people as possible stay licensed which is why we offer a range of payment schemes and many opportunities to pay before prosecution. The majority of first-time offenders are not prosecuted if they buy a licence before their court date. If a prosecution takes place, then a magistrate will decide on the fine amount and the individual will also need to pay court costs and a victim surcharge.
Most licence payers choose Direct Debit but more than a million people in the UK use the TV Licensing Payment Card. This gives the flexibility of paying on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.
To find out more information about TV Licensing, visit our website find out the different ways to pay.
TV Licensing is always keen to reach out to communities in Wales to offer advice and support. If you’re from an organisation helping the local community and would be interested in finding out more from us, please contact us.