The UK’s Information Commissioner, who’s been a very busy man/department recently, declined a freedom of information request to reveal how many TV license detector vans the BBC operates – because it might stop people believing they exist.
The shadowy fleet of TV-detecting vans is supposed to be able to pick up tell-tale signs that a TV’s being used inside a house, but the ICO ruled that revealing how many vans the BBC actually operates – and the technology they use – might undermine the level of threat they pose. And lead to us not bothering to pay our licence fees any more.
Incidentally, if you are watching a TV without a license, there’s really nothing they can do to stop you. TV license inspectors are not the police. They can’t force their way in to your house. If you don’t want to let them in it’s perfectly fine to tell them to go away no matter how pushy and threatening and big the man with the clipboard on your doorstep may be.
Plus most people in the world find it very hard to believe that a van can tell if you’re watching telly or not, especially if you live in a big old house that’s been converted into 24 bedsits and are watching a modern LCD.
The full ruling regarding the possible non-existence of the Beeb’s detector fleet is available as a PDF here. It’s unlikely to be admissible as evidence if they do catch up with you, mind.