Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

British TV Detector Vans

Lewis Day writes about TV Licensing in Britain, and the detector vans used to discover if a household is watching unlicensed BBC broadcasts:

Alternatively, a search warrant may be granted on the basis of evidence gleaned from a TV detector van. Outfitted with equipment to detect a TV set in use, the vans roam the streets of the United Kingdom, often dispatched to addresses with lapsed or absent TV licences. If the van detects that a set may be operating and receiving broadcast signals, TV Licencing can apply to the court for the requisite warrant to take the investigation further. The vans are almost solely used to support warrant applications; the detection van evidence is rarely if ever used in court to prosecute a licence evader. With a warrant in hand, officers will use direct evidence such as a television found plugged into an aerial to bring an evader to justice through the courts.

Historically, antennas were used to detect specific frequencies. These days, with streaming and flat panel TVs, it appears that vans are still used but the detection methods are somewhat obscured.