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MA responses to consultations: decriminalisation of TV licence evasion and drug offences

MA consultation responses

14 April 2020
MA responses to consultations: decriminalisation of TV licence evasion and drug offences

The MA responded to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s consultation on decriminalising TV licence evasion. The consultation sought views on whether to decriminalise licence evasion, and what an alternative scheme could look like, including whether it would be fairer and more proportionate and what the impact would be on fee payers.

While the MA does not generally comment on whether specific behaviour should or should not be an offence, as this is a matter for parliament to decide, our response raised the concern that prosecutions for TV licence evasion disproportionately affect women, as in 2018 72% of non-payment cases involved a female defendant. The MA recommended that further research should be done to better understand and address this. If TV licence evasion is decriminalised, the MA suggested that the BBC could mitigate the predicted loss in revenue through implementing ‘nudge’ techniques to maximise receiving payment without recourse to enforcement action. The full response is available here.

The MA also responded to a Sentencing Council consultation on drug offences, which aimed to review five of the current drug offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to bring them up to date with modern behaviour connected with drug offences, and to introduce guidelines for new offences created by the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.

The MA welcomed the introduction of Synethetic Cannaboid Reception Agonists, such as spice, into the harm tables, given the rise in the use of these drugs over the last few years. The MA also welcomed the changes to the guidelines to reflect changes in the type of offending coming before the courts, to include cyber-enabled crime and county-lines type activity. We added that where the offender has been exploited, the court may want to consider whether the offender has a statutory defence through Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act, and suggested that further information on this should be included in the guidance. The full response is available here.

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