Evaders prosecuted

MORE than 530 people were caught watching TV without a licence in Craigavon during the first half of 2011 new figures have revealed, making the area one of the worst for licence evasion.

They are among the 8,500 evaders across Northern Ireland caught so far this year.

Craigavon has overtaken Newry which contained 510 properties evading licence payments and were topped only by Derry and Belfast with 600 and 2,800 respectively. Dungannon and Armagh placed further down the table with 420 and 300 each.

Over 1,300 homes were prosecuted in Craigavon last year alone.

In total around 197,000 homes across the UK were caught during the first half of this year, however, TV Licensing say the evasion rate remains at a low of just over five percent meaning that almost ninety-five percent of properties are correctly licensed.

TV Licensing spokesperson Deborah King stated, “While the vast majority of people in the UK pay their licence fee, to be fair to those who pay, we have to be firm with those who try to get away without paying. We take TV licence evasion very seriously and we will not hesitate to prosecute if people continue to break the law.

“We would always prefer people to buy a TV licence than risk prosecution and give people every opportunity to pay. However, we do understand some people may find it difficult to pay their licence fee in one go, which is why we offer numerous ways to spread the cost including a weekly cash payment plan, a savings card and monthly Direct Debit scheme, which can all be set up very quickly online’.

TV Licensing launched a new advertising campaign in May and part two aired on Saturday, July 23, to remind people about the different ways to pay for their licence.

Kevin Higgins, Head of Policy at Advice NI welcomed the efforts to make it as easy as possible for people to manage the payment of their licence fee, ‘The website provides all the details people need to make an informed decision about which choice of payment scheme will work best for them, but we would urge anyone having trouble with payments to give TV Licensing a call so they can provide additional advice.”

A colour TV licence currently costs £145.50 and is required by anyone watching or recording TV programmes, whether they are using a TV set, computer or any other equipment. Anyone watching TV illegally risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000. Further information on how and where to pay the licence fee can be found on the TV Licensing website.