UK Report Calls
For Tout Reform

A police report that the UK government tried to sweep under the carpet recommends that Parliament should regulate the secondary ticket market.

A week ago the Daily Mirror reported that the document from Operation Podium, which was set up to stop ticket touts from hawking seats for the Olympic Games, was being withheld because its findings were “too sensitive.”

Following pressure from politicians led by Sharon Hodgson, the Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, the document was made public Feb. 19.

Six days earlier, Hodgson raised a point of order in the House Of Commons, questioning whether there were genuine grounds for withholding the report.

“I am sure that ministers did not intend to mislead the House or withhold information from it, so if you have not received word that ministers would like to correct the record, will you advise me on the best course of action to pursue to remind the government of their duties to Members of the House?” she said.

“This report has confirmed what those of us who have been campaigning for action on touting have known for a long time: that the secondary ticket market operates in the interests of a handful of shady dealers, rather than ordinary fans,” was Hodgson’s response to the report eventually being published. “The government has previously stated that they would not step in because there was no evidence of criminal involvement or market failure in the secondary ticket market. This report flatly contradicts those arguments.

“Ministers now need to take on board the advice from experts in the police, put fans first, and take action to tackle ticket touts once and for all.”

The publication of the Operation Podium report will likely galvanise organizations like the Association Of Independent Festivals and the Featured Artists Coalition, which are both campaigning against the secondary market.

In 2011 Hodgson tried  to bring in legislation to regulate the secondary ticketing market, including capping unauthorised resale profits at 10 percent to deter the large operators from buying up vast amounts of tickets.
Her parliamentary bill was rejected by the government and talked out by Conservative backbenchers, but the publishing of the Podium report will ramp up the opposition to touts.

The pressure for the government to act is now as great as in 2006, when former culture secretary Tessa Jowell held a long consultation before deciding not to outlaw the secondary market.

The Podium report found that: “due to the surreptitious way that large numbers of ‘primary’ tickets are diverted straight onto secondary ticket websites, members of the public have little choice but to try to source tickets on the secondary ticket market.”

It also concluded that “the lack of legislation outlawing the unauthorised resale of tickets and the absence of regulation of the primary and secondary ticket market encourages unscrupulous practices, a lack of transparency and fraud.”

It recommended that: “consideration must be given to introducing legislation to govern the unauthorised sale of event tickets. The lack of legislation in this area enables fraud and places the public at risk of economic crime” and “the primary and secondary ticket market require regulation to ensure transparency, allowing consumers to understand who they are buying from and affording them better protection from ticket crime.”

There is also a fear that the touts will have free reign when Operation Podium is wound up at the end of the month.