Working beyond 9 to 5: half of all TV Licensing evaders caught out of hours

Half of all TV Licensing evaders are caught in the early morning, evening and at weekends, according to new figures released today.

TV Licensing Enquiry Officers focus their efforts on unlicensed addresses when occupants are most likely to be at home. Last month, more than 11,0001 evaders across the UK were caught watching live TV or BBC programmes on iPlayer without a licence before 9am, after 5pm or on weekends.

In a recent survey2, almost a third of all adults thought it unlikely that anyone watching live TV without a licence would be caught, yet in June alone, more than 22,0003 evaders were caught without a licence.

London was one of the top areas across the UK, with 600 evaders caught outside weekday working hours last month, followed by Belfast, where 569 evaders were caught without a TV Licence, out-of-hours.

Jason Hill, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said:

Our officers knock on over 10,000 doors a day - one every five seconds. In 2016/17, we caught around 256,6004 evaders from all walks of life. Officers can explain payment plans which spread the cost of a licence. We’d always rather help people pay than prosecute and encourage them to contact us for help and advice.
We offer a variety of ways to spread the cost, including a weekly cash payment plan, a savings card or a monthly Direct Debit scheme, which can be set up very quickly online or over the phone. We also work with almost 500 money advice and community organisations across the UK to offer information on when a licence is needed, ways to pay and concessions.

Ron Hand, TV Licensing Field Operations Lead, said:

In order to be fair to the majority who do pay for their licence, we’ll continue to pursue the small minority of people who do not pay. We make sure some of our visits are scheduled when popular programmes such EastEnders are aired or football matches are screened, outside normal working hours.

Enquiry officers focus their visits on unlicensed addresses where occupants have ignored previous attempts to make contact. TV Licensing continually refines the information used to select the time of visits, in order to effectively target unlicensed households.

The vast majority of first time evaders are not prosecuted if they buy a licence before their case is reviewed by the courts. Around 99 per cent of TV Licensing cases taken to court in England and Wales result in a conviction.

You can buy a TV Licence online, and a colour licence costs £147. A TV Licence is needed if you’re watching or recording programmes at the same time as they’re shown on TV, or watching BBC programmes on iPlayer.

You can visit the TV Licensing website to find more information about when a TV Licence is needed.

Top ten “out-of-hours” evaders caught areas in June 2017:

*”Out-of-hours” visiting refers to visits made before 9am on a weekday, after 5pm on a weekday, and any time on weekends.

Postcode area5 Evaders caught out of hours
June 2017
Total evaders caught
June 2017
London 600 1,184
Birmingham 569 905
Belfast 479 952
Newcastle 418 768
Manchester 377 698
Sheffield 355 743
Cardiff 347 588
Liverpool 294 585
Nottingham 270 586
Portsmouth 224 432


1. 11,477 evaders caught, out of hours, June 2017

2. Harris Interactive Survey, Jan-March 2017

3. 22,582 evaders caught in total, June 2017

4. TV Licensing Annual Review 2016/17

5. Regions defined by postcode area

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