Call to Decriminalise Non-Payment of TV Licence

David Ford has called for TV licence evasion to be made a civil matter. The Minister for Justice made the remarks after it was revealed that the number of people taken to Court for non-payment of the licence in 2014/15 topped 10,000, with less than half being found guilty.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that in a three year period ending in April 2015, a total of 142,466 cases were brought to Magistrates’ Courts in Northern Ireland. Throughout this period, 26,058 Defendants were charged with having no TV licence. In 2014/15, almost one in four Defendants in our Magistrates’ Courts were prosecuted for this particular offence.

Mr Ford stated “I have pressed the UK Government to make non-payment of the licence fee a civil matter, rather than a criminal offence, but as yet they have not accepted the argument.” Mr Ford’s comments demonstrate the increasing concern regarding the pressure that TV licence prosecutions put on the Court system.

A TV licence currently costs £145.50 per year and the maximum penalty for non-payment is a £1,000.