Scots avoid jail after TV license non-payment

Caroline Levesque-Bartlett

Nobody in Scotland has faced jail for failure to pay their TV license in at least half a decade, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act 2002.

The figures stand in contrast with the corresponding data for England and Wales, where more than 100 people have been sent to jail in the past three years in breach of the Communications Act 2003.

Campaigner and legal editor Caroline Levesque-Bartlett obtained the figures as part of her campaign against the TV license fee, which she has described as a “burden to the poor” which should be scrapped.

The figures show 39 people in England and Wales were jailed in 2014, 32 in 2013 and 51 in 2012, with an average length of sentence of 20 days.

Scottish courts do not jail those who fail to pay fines of less than £500 due to the presumption against sentences of less than three months introduced by the Scottish Government in 2010.

However, Scotland saw more fines issued per capita, with a total of 13,486 fines issued in 2014 against 185,580 prosecutions in England and Wales over the same period. The average fine in Scotland was £75, compared with £170 in England and Wales.

A spokesperson for TV Licensing told The Herald: “We enforce the law in Scotland by taking a statement from those who evade, as it does in the rest of the UK.

“Subject to the usual evidential and public interest tests, cases are then sent for prosecution to the Procurator-Fiscal who decides how cases are dealt with.

“In the vast majority of cases, the PF levies a fixed penalty by way of an out-of-court disposal.”

Share icon
Share this article: