£1,000 a month bonus for BBC's TV licence police who are rewarded for taking members of the public to court
- 334 officers were offered 'uncapped' incentives to find evidence
- They were responsible for one in 10 criminal prosecutions last year
- Director general Tony Hall called for further crackdown on Tuesday
The BBC was accused of ‘hunting down hard-working people’ last night after it emerged that licence-fee collectors can earn a £1,000 bonus every month for hauling TV viewers to court.
Critics said it was ‘outrageous’ that its 334 enforcement officers were offered ‘uncapped’ incentives to find the evidence the BBC needs to prosecute householders.
They say the bonuses could encourage officers to harass householders.
A record 180,000 court cases against fee evaders last year mean the BBC is responsible for more than one in ten criminal prosecutions, leading to complaints that it is clogging up the courts.
The news follows director-general Tony Hall’s announcement on Tuesday that he plans a further crackdown on licence-fee evaders to help fill the £100million-a-year shortfall created by his ‘digital revolution’, which aims to put far more programmes online and double the BBC’s global audience.
However, last night, Tory MP Rob Hall said: ‘It is outrageous to learn that the BBC is allowing bailiffs to be given incentives to pursue those who are struggling to pay their licence fee.
‘There is a gravy train for executives, an unaccountable commercial division beyond public control, and now bonuses for bailiffs to hunt down hard-working people.’
The BBC sub-contracts the collection of the £145.50 licence fee to private firm Capita. Last year, it signed an eight-year deal with the corporation worth £560million.
Collectors knock on the doors of four million homes a year.
They earn a basic salary plus ‘uncapped commission’ for taking statements from householders that can be used as evidence of evasion.
In 2005, a collector was convicted of forging customer signatures to boost his bonus.
It emerged in court that officers had to gather 38 statements a week to qualify for a bonus. They could get more than £700 a month on top of their salary.
Details of the current bonuses have not been revealed, but collectors are estimated to earn up to £1,000.
Last year, the BBC collected £3.7billion in licence fees. Some 5.8 per cent of households evade the licence fee.
A spokesman said non-payers cost the BBC £216million last year, adding: ‘On behalf of the honest 95 per cent of people who do pay, we have a duty to enforce the law on those who evade the fee.’