The BBC has said it will investigate whether the enforcement of TV licence fee payments discriminates against females after figures revealed women make up three-quarters of convictions.
The corporation’s latest data showed that women made up 76 per cent of the 52,376 people convicted for TV licence evasion in 2020.
The BBC agreed to carry out a gender disparity review after a 32-year-old single mother from Essex threatened a judicial review of the system on the grounds of sex discrimination when she faced prosecution for not paying the fee.
The woman, who moved to the United Kingdom from Rwanda in 2015, said she made tiny errors when attempting to switch her TV licencing payments to direct debits before she was charged with non-payment in March last year.
She contacted Appeal, a charity fighting miscarriage of justice, who argued charging her for the offence was not in the public interest.
TV Licencing agreed and dropped the charges, but believing the system was unfair, the woman sought assistance from the Public Law Project who informed the BBC they were seeking a judicial review.
Plans to push for the review were then dropped when the BBC, who considered the woman’s claim unfounded, agreed to carry out an internal gender disparity review.
The woman told a newspaper outlet that she felt that they target people who are vulnerable, such as single mums, and that this needed to be challenged.
She said that she did this to stop other women from being targeted unfairly, and so that they can see if there’s discrimination.
Ministry of Justice figures show Licence fee evasion was the common offence for which women were convicted in
Ministry of Justice figures show Licence fee evasion was the common offence for which women were convicted in 2019. It accounted for 30 per cent of female convictions and just 4 per cent of male convictions.
The Ministry of Justice said this was because women were more likely to be at home when an inspector knocks at the door.
Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary who last month said the TV licence fee would be frozen at £159 for two years, told a newspaper outlet she was extremely concerned that women were disproportionately facing criminal charges for non-payment.
The woman from Essex said inspectors visited her house during the November 2020 lockdown and having just moved into her new home, she said she wasn’t on top of her bills but then signed up for Paypoint so she could pay the licence fee in cash or on a credit card in certain shops.
This licencing fee has now run its time and is now becoming a disgrace by hounding pensioners and single women with threats of fines, but unfortunately, women are more easily intimidated by male inspectors – don’t give them your name or any information and definitely don’t let them in – slam the door in their faces and ignore their empty threats.
Or, failing that, ditch the BBC – problem solved because nobody’s interested anymore when there are hundreds of channels to watch and quite frankly they show much better content.
Nobody should be prosecuted for not having a TV licence, it’s absurd. They’ve purchased the TV, they’ve paid for the electricity to run it, so why should they need to buy a licence on top?
Could you envision being forced to pay for Netflix and if we didn’t, then we could face prison time, but that’s not the case, you pay for it if you watch it and if you don’t then you don’t pay a penny, so why should we be forced to pay for the BBC if we don’t watch it live? The BBC is a disgrace and should be broken up and privatised, that way if we want to watch it we can and if we don’t want to we don’t have to pay.