Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: Half of all TV Licence evaders nabbed during unsocial hours

New figures released by the organisation responsible for issuing and regulating TV licensing have shown that evaders can be caught off-guard at any time.

In the United Kingdom members of the public are required to hold a television licence if they are watching television programmes as they are being broadcast, or if they watch any programmes on the BBC iPlayer.

The responsibility for collecting the TV licence fee lies with the BBC - who use the money to support its output - with payments collected under the trading name 'TV Licensing', with much of the work being outsourced.

In a statement, TV Licensing has said that in June, 952 evaders in Northern Ireland were caught without a licence, with 50% of these being caught before 9am in the morning, after 5pm in the evening or at the weekends.

Speaking about the figures, TV Licensing spokesperson for Northern Ireland Jonathan King said: "Our officers knock on over 10,000 doors a day - one every five seconds. In 2016/17, we caught around 256,600 evaders from all walks of life."

Despite this hefty number of inspections, in reality the number of prosecutions brought against people without TV licences is much lower.

Court statistics show that last year 5,017 people were prosecuted, with almost a third of all cases - 1,373 - being thrown out.

Mr King also said that there were a number of different ways that TV watchers in Northern Ireland could spread out the cost of their licence - including using a savings card, taking up a weekly cash payment plan, or a monthly Direct Debit scheme.

The organisation also said that it targeted television watchers during peak viewing times, such as when Eastenders is on, or while the football is being broadcast.

A TV licence costs £147, or £49.50 for a black-and-white set, and evaders risk being slapped with a hefty fine of up to £1,000.

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