TV Licensing publishes 2011 evader statistics

Almost 390,000 people across the UK were caught watching a TV without a valid licence in 2011, according to figures published today by TV Licensing.

More than 50,000 were caught in Greater London, more than 17,400 in Glasgow and more than 10,700 in Birmingham.

TV Licensing catches more than 1,000 evaders every day. Other cities with a high number of evaders caught include:

  • Liverpool (more than 8,200)
  • Manchester (more than 7,700)
  • Nottingham (more than 6,700)
  • Bristol (more than 4,700)
  • Belfast (more than 4,600)
  • Hull (more than 4,200)
  • Edinburgh (more than 4,200)

The estimated evasion rate remains steady at around 5%, as it has done for the last five years. This means the vast majority of people, or 19 out of 20 households and businesses, are correctly licensed in accordance with the legal requirements. There are more than 25 million licences in force across the UK.

Farimah Darbyshire, TV Licensing spokesperson, said:

TV viewing is as popular as ever, with the percentage of households who have a television set at 96.7%*, and it’s our role to make sure everyone is aware of when they need to be covered by a licence. On behalf of licence fee payers, we are committed to tackling evasion and enforcing the law amongst the small minority who should pay, but don’t. It’s only fair.
People are given every opportunity to pay, but, if they fail to do so and watch TV illegally, we will seek a prosecution. The penalty is a fine of up to £1,000, plus court costs and a victim surcharge. Anyone found guilty is also required to buy a TV Licence at £145.50 if they still need one or they could face a second prosecution. It’s really not worth the risk.

TV Licensing wants to make it as easy as possible for people to pay for a TV Licence and therefore offers numerous ways to spread the cost, including Direct Debit and a weekly or monthly cash payment plan. Information to help people decide which payment option will work best for them can be found on the TV Licensing website –

Did you know?

  • A colour TV Licence costs £145.50 and is required by anyone watching or recording TV programmes as they are shown on TV.
  • A TV Licence doesn’t just cover you to watch TV at home on a TV set. With today’s technology, you can watch TV on more devices than ever, whenever it suits you best, including online via a computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • TV Licensing has over 30 million UK addresses on its database and can tell at the click of a button which addresses are unlicensed
  • 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
  • Detector vans and handheld detectors can be used by enquiry officers to check if an unlicensed property is watching TV illegally, but the database is the main enforcement tool
  • People can start paying their licence fee within minutes by visiting or by calling 0300 790 6112. Direct Debit is the most popular payment method, chosen by almost 70% of payers. 2.3 million people paid via our website in 2010/11, with over 1.4 million payers receiving an e-licence rather than a paper licence in the post. TV Licensing’s cash schemes are also popular, with more than half a million payments paid by text message.

* Source: BARB (Broadcasters Audience Research Board)


Notes to editor:

For more information, please call the TV Licensing press office on 020 7544 3144.

Help on understanding the data in this press release:

  • Figures relate to people caught between January and December 2011 and are accurate at the time of reporting, based on information from the Royal Mail’s Postcode Address File as at March 2011, supplied by Geoplan.
  • The number of evaders caught in a locality changes from time to time, and can be influenced by a variety of factors, including the visiting patterns of TV Licensing enquiry officers, which are subject to change.

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