TV Licence offences make up more than a tenth of all court cases in the UK

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TV licensing offences now account for more than a tenth of all criminal prosecutions in the UK.

More than 180,000 people appeared in front of magistrates in 2012 after being accused of watching live television without the correct licence.

This figure translates to 3,500 people being hauled before court every week for not paying the required license fee. 

12 per cent of all criminal prosecutions now relate to TV licensing offences, according to City AM.

A TV licence currently costs £145.50 for a colour licence and £49 for those who watch television using black and white sets.

The licences are mandatory in any household where programmes are watched or recorded as they are being aired by a channel, regardless of the homeowner/ renter's employment status. 

TV licence guidelines state that this rule is for all devices used to watch programmes, such as TVs, computers, mobile phones, games consoles, digital boxes and Blu-ray/DVD/VHS recorders.

However, for households who only watch television programmes after they have been broadcast, they usually do not require a licence.

The guidelines state: "You don't need a licence if you don't use any of these devices to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV - for example, if you use your TV only to watch DVDs or play video games, or you only watch ‘catch up’ services like BBC iPlayer or 4oD."

The figures, published by the Ministry of Justice, show that women are also disproportionately affected as two thirds of cases are taken against females.

This is believed to be because women can be at home with their offspring when inspectors visit.

Of the 180,000 prosecutions, approximately 155,000 resulted in convictions. Not holding a TV licence can result in fines of up to £1,000 and a prison sentence upon non-payment.

TV Licence guidelines also warn that there are many ways to be caught not having a licence. Their website states:

"We have a database of approximately 31 million licensed and unlicensed addresses. This tells us if your address has a TV licence.

"Enforcement officers may use a hand-held detection device to measure both the direction and the strength of a TV signal. This makes it easy for us to locate TV receiving equipment in even the hardest-to-reach places."