Bury St Edmunds: Fines handed out in court to television licence evaders

83 people have been fined in a crackdown on TV licence dodgers.

83 people have been fined in a crackdown on TV licence dodgers. - Credit: Archant

Thousands of pounds in fines were handed out in Bury St Edmunds earlier this week to people who had failed to pay their television licence fee.

Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court dealt with 83 cases of people accused of using a TV without a licence, dishing out more than £14,000 in fines.

Most defendants did not turn up to their hearing, and were fined in their absence. They were from across the county, including Haverhill, Ipswich, Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft.

Some cases were withdrawn and some are coming back to court at a later date, for example for trial.

A spokeswoman for TV Licensing said the number of cases in court on any one day is not directly related to the overall rate of evasion or enforcement activity in the area.

She said between January 2012 and January 2013 more than 3,400 people in Suffolk were caught without a valid licence.

The national rate of evasion is between five and six per cent, and has been stable at around that level for the past six years.

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The spokeswoman said: “Anyone found watching or recording TV programmes at the same time as they are shown on TV without a valid licence risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000 plus court costs and a victim surcharge – and still needs to buy a TV licence if they need one.

“We would always prefer people pay rather than to be prosecuted, and offer a wide range of ways to pay for a licence including small weekly cash payments. On behalf of the vast majority who pay, we will prosecute people who deliberately evade the fee.”