Suffolk/Essex: Thousands caught watching TV without a licence

TV licensing detector van

TV licensing detector van - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

MORE than 11,000 people were caught watching television without a licence in Suffolk and Essex in 2012.

TV Licensing has revealed more than 3,400 people were caught without a licence in Suffolk, including more than 1,400 in Ipswich, 760 in Lowestoft and 170 in Felixstowe.

In Essex, meanwhile, the figure rose to more than 8,300 people, including 280 in Braintree and 520 in Chelmsford.

The average evasion rate was 5%, meaning almost 95% of homes are correctly licensed.

Victoria Sykes, TV Licensing spokesperson, said: “The data shows evasion remains at historically low levels, with the overwhelming majority of people ensuring they are correctly licensed.

“In order to be fair to the law-abiding majority who do pay for their licence, we will continue to pursue the small minority of people who do not pay.”

A colour television licence currently costs £145.50 and is required by anyone watching or recording television programmes on a TV set, computer, or any other equipment.

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Mrs Sykes said if people decide to watch TV without being properly licensed, they risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

She added: “We do understand some people may find it difficult to pay in one go, which is why we offer numerous ways to spread the cost.

“Payment options include a weekly cash payment plan, a savings card or a monthly Direct Debit scheme, which can be set up very quickly online or over the phone.

“We also work with a range of money advice organisations – their staff can provide useful information and payment advice to help people budget for a TV Licence.”

The figures of the survey relate to people caught between January 2011 and January 2012.

Richard Haymes, of the StepChange Debt Charity, said: “TV Licensing makes it easier for us to help clients keep within the law. We welcome the many ways to pay – this will help people on lower incomes plan and meet their TV Licensing requirements and we would ask anyone experiencing difficulty with payments to contact TV Licensing.”

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