Becoming a criminal

I was struck by the last sentence in this article.

“Watching TV without a valid licence is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £1,000.”

Given the invasive nature of TV licence inspectors and the ruthlessness with which they pursue their objectives, I imagine that quite a few, otherwise harmless citizens, find themselves with criminal records. In the event, albeit unlikely, that I were to be successfully prosecuted for not owning a television licence and thus categorized as a criminal, I think that I would be more, rather than less, inclined to commit further crimes. There is an old saying, ‘one may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb’ and I think this is a perfect example of how the pettiness of self-serving law-makers  has the unintended but predictable result of creating more law-breakers. Having a criminal record creates all sorts of difficulties in a persons life including inhibiting one’s ability to travel,  denying one job opportunities, prohibiting one from becoming a company director and so forth. I do not want a criminal record, but were I to have one, it would no longer serve as a deterrent. Tax evasion, amongst a host of other crimes, would suddenly become a real consideration. By branding me a criminal, you turn me into one. That is of course if one assumes I have no moral inhibitions.

11 thoughts on “Becoming a criminal”

  1. It’s about time that the UK relinquished the television licence and, if it wants a national broadcasting service, funded the BBC in a different way.

    It seems to me that there are far too many ways that one can become a criminal in the UK these days. I think you are absolutely right to assert that the criminalisation of so many individuals for what are, in effect, trivial offences encourages the belief that there’s nothing too much wrong with breaking the law.

  2. I really don’t have a problem with the licence fee; frankly it is not a huge amount of money.

    I do have a problem with being criminalised if I don’t pay it. Utterly ridiculous. Same thing with speeding, which I do quite frequently.

    I am absolutely not a criminal.

  3. I think that is the point. The TV licence is not a huge amount of money. To be criminalised for something so trivial, is well, criminal, especially when the justification for demanding the licence fee is morally dubious. You pay for it even if you just want to watch satellite or commercial TV. You do not have the option of blocking out BBC. I cannot believe that it is not in breach of some European Human Rights law. It would in fact make more sense to pay for the service out of tax revenue. Its much fairer. As it stands, 6 adults sharing a house pay the same as one adult living alone. To my mind that is plain wrong.

  4. It would in fact make more sense to pay for the service out of tax revenue.

    That is the situation here, Sipu. For fairly obvious reasons it would be impractical to send little vans all over the country to find who hasn’t paid a licence! Indeed, I wonder just how much it costs in the UK to ‘discover’ these dreadful criminals… money that would be far better spent on catching real villains.

  5. Boa, I think in the UK, it is sub-contacted to the private sector; rather like wheel clampers. They are pretty ruthless as they go about their duties. I do not know about elsewhere, but in SA, one cannot buy a TV without a valid licence to show the retailer. Once you are on the SABC’s list, it is very difficult to get off. You have to tell them if you leave the country. Your credit record is damaged if you do not pay each year. What adds insult to injury is not only does SABC have advertising, its programs are so appallingly dreadful that one can hardly bear to watch them. Well nothing local any way. Luckily there is satellite TV, though that is a bit of a rip off considering the number of repeats that are shown. But the SABC is an ANC mouthpiece aimed principally at the core electorate, so as long as they get their fix of gangsta rap and football, they are pretty happy to suffer regular bouts of propaganda.

  6. I don’t think I’d like your TV, Sipu.

    The ABC doesn’t have advertising, but its sister channel, SBS, does – but along the lines of advertising in the UK: ie only at specified times. The commercial channels are totally unwatchable with adverts all over the place, and increasing as the program nears the end. Drives me to distraction!

  7. Here in tiny DK we have two main sources of telly progs: one a BBC-style public org with the inevitable licence fee; the other a state owned commercial enterptise with seven channels. Films are usually show uninterrupted on the main channels with only one or two breaks on the rest. US-style, a-break-every-five-minutes TV would die the death here, I’m sure. It only manifests itself during American football coverage which is designed for short-attention-span-fanatics.

  8. Here no tv license fee but bloody dreadful TV anyway!
    I used to send them a fee in the UK every couple of years or so, the rest were repeats! Whenever they came knocking at the door I was always abroad, quite funny really, sod em, they had enough to pay for what I ever saw. Regretfully for them I could always prove I was abroad, they just hated that!!!
    What always seriously pissed me off was that they would not refund part year fees if one was departing if it was less than six months that they owed you back. The usual, what is mine is mine and what is yours is mine too. Bastards.
    So I made a point of not paying for however many months they owed me, they never did want to challenge that in a law court either. Cavilling bastards.

  9. One only has to step out of the front door in England to be breaking some bloody lunatic, funsucking law or other and as a wiser head said on here, ‘Treat me like a crimonal and I become one’.
    Many years ago I saw a young PC getting a good kicking from a group of thugs in the Edgware road, I jumped out of the car and laid one out cold before the other two scarpered, for that little action I recieved a very nice letter from a rozzer with a lot of silver tinsle on his hat. Would I get out of the car now,? Of course I would, and then join in the attack on the copper! Well actually I would still give assistance to the PC but you know what I mean, it makes you feel that way.

  10. oldmovieguy :

    Keep the licence fee for the BBC, best value going, a gem in a sea of kayrap.

    OMG, I am not completely anti BBC. There is a great deal about it that I like and admire and on balance, I prefer to see it in public hands. I think what gets me, apart from the fact that is is criminal offence not to pay the licence fee, which I have already conceded is relatively insignificant, is the way the fee is collected and the fact that it is inequitable. Of course, lets not get started on the left-leaning slant of its management and staff.

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