Over the many years I`ve been a magistrate there are not many more depressing episodes than sitting in a TV Licensing court listening to well rehearsed “inspectors” recount tales of doorstep conversations and the sometimes pathetic attempts of those on the lowest income brackets, often recent arrivals to this country, explaining their reasons for watching television on a non licensed appliance. In houses of multiple occupation with unlicensed TV sets the anecdotal evidence is that s/he who opens the door to said inspector is held responsible even when he, in a case some years ago, was a visiting graduate law student from Harvard.
In 2010 almost 87% of 164,444 persons against whom proceedings were brought under the Communications Act 2003, Section 363. were found guilty. I have yet to meet a J.P. who does not believe that these cases should be removed from the criminal justice system and be tried in the civil courts.
ADDENDUM 24th April 2012