Over 470 people were caught watching TV without a licence in Lincoln during the first half of 2011. Some 930 Lincoln residents were caught without a licence in 2010.
They were almost 197,000 people caught across the UK during the first half of this year. The average evasion rate remains at just over 5%, meaning that almost 95% of properties are correctly licensed.
More than 23,000 were caught in Greater London, more than 10,000 in Glasgow and more than 5,000 in Birmingham.
Closer to Lincoln, 120 were caught in Gainsborough and 290 in Newark.
Caroline Siarkiewicz, Executive Director at the Institute of Money Advisers, said: “Lots of people struggle with their finances, but if you choose to watch TV without being correctly licensed you’re breaking the law and risk making it worse.
“We welcome the ways in which TV Licensing makes it as easy as possible for people to spread the cost of their TV Licence and make payments online but, if you’re having trouble, we urge you to give TV Licensing a call or seek help from a free money adviser in your area.”
Mark Whitehouse, TV Licensing spokesperson for East Anglia, 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 do give people every opportunity to pay.”
A colour TV Licence currently 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. Anyone watching TV illegally risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.
Enquiry officers face an array of unashamed tales and delaying tactics, with one person even declaring: “Can you call back later? I want to finish watching the end of this TV programme.”
Some of the absurd pretexts given by licence fee evaders in 2010 include:
- “I’ve got no licence because when I called TV Licensing they refused to barter with me. Everything should be up for negotiation.
- “My house was invaded by a squirrel which weed on my TV, so now it doesn’t work properly.”
- “I don’t watch the television; I just use it as a light in the dark.”
- “My TV’s too small to fit the licence in the back to make the signal work, so I didn’t bother getting one.”