MORE than 770 people in Scarborough were caught watching TV without a licence in the last year, new figures have shown.
The findings showed an increase on the 2009 statistics, when around 700 evaders were caught, and a significant increase on the previous year, when 601 TV licence evaders in the town were caught.
This compares to more than 440 in Bridlington, 110 in Malton and more than 810 in York, adding up to the total of 5,810 people watching TV illegally in North Yorkshire alone and 400,000 across the UK.
TV Licensing spokesperson Tim Downs said: “It’s not fair on the vast majority of people in Scarborough who pay their licence fee for some people to watch TV without paying. We try to give people every chance to get on the right side of the law, but ultimately if they fail to pay, we will take action.
“We take TV Licence evasion very seriously, and any householder or business caught watching TV without a licence can face a prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.”
He added: “We do understand that 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 monthly Direct Debit, which can be set up very quickly on-line, and a weekly or monthly cash payment plan.”
A colour TV Licence costs £145.50 and is required by anyone watching or recording TV programmes as they are shown on TV, whether they are using a TV set, computer, or any other equipment.
An unlicensed address will receive a number of reminder letters and possibly a phone call before a visit from an enquiry officer is scheduled – but if someone is then caught watching TV illegally, they risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.
The average evasion rate remains at a low of just over five per cent, meaning that almost 95 per cent of properties are correctly licensed. Watching TV without a licence is a criminal offence.
TV Licensing has more than 30 million UK addresses on it’s database and says it can tell at the click of a button which addresses are unlicensed, so it is worth paying up and avoiding a large fine.
People can start paying their licence fee by visiting www.tvlicensing.co.uk/info or by calling 0300 790 6112. Direct Debit is the most popular payment method, chosen by 69 per cent of television viewers.