Thou­sands of Scots are fined for TV li­cence breach

The Scotsman - - News - JANE BRADLEY

MORE than 13,500 peo­ple in Scot­land have been found guilty of not pay­ing their TV li­cence over the past year, fig­ures have re­vealed – with those liv­ing in Glas­gow the most likely to of­fend.

Fig­ures ob­tained un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act showed that a to­tal of 13,486 peo­ple Scot­land-wide have been fined out of court un­der the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Act 2003, while a fur­ther 28 have been found guilty of breach­ing the act in court.

The vast ma­jor­ity of TV li­cence eva­sion cases in Scot­land are fined in an out-of-court dis­posal, with only cases which have es­ca­lated taken to the sher­iff court.

More than 3,404 fines were is­sued in Glas­gow, while the next high­est num­ber of of­fences were com­mit­ted by TV li­cens­ing evaders liv­ing in North La­nark­shire. Fines for TV li­cence eva­sion can be as high as £1,000, but as they are based on the evader’s in­come, the av­er­age fine is be­lieved to be closer to £170.

The fig­ures were ob­tained by anti-li­cence fee cam­paigner Caro­line Levesque-bartlett, who has gath­ered more than 163,000 sig­na­tures on an online pe­ti­tion aimed at end­ing the li­cence fee.

She said: “It’s not fair that peo­ple are be­ing pros­e­cuted for not pay­ing some­thing un­fair. The whole TV li­cence fee is a bur­den to the poor in the first place. It’s hard to jus­tify forc­ing the whole coun­try to sub­sidise a broad­caster, us­ing crim­i­nal sanc­tions.”

A TV Li­cens­ing spokes­woman said cases are sent to the procu­ra­tor fis­cal as a last re­sort. She said: “We know some peo­ple may find it dif­fi­cult to pay but we do all we can to help, in­clud­ing of­fer­ing weekly cash pay­ment schemes. ”

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