8,500 caught without TV licence
Published 20/07/2011 | 00:42
More than 8,500 people were caught watching TV without a licence in Northern Ireland during the first half of the year, new figures have revealed.
This included more than 2,800 in Belfast, 530 in Craigavon and 600 in Londonderry.
They were among almost 197,000 people caught across the UK during the same period.
But TV Licensing said the average evasion rate remains at a low of just over 5%, with almost 95% of properties found to be correctly licensed.
TV Licensing spokesperson Deborah King said: "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 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 payment of the licence fee.