The penalty for not buying a TV licence is set to sharply rise, after ministers announced a quadrupling of the maximum possible fine from £1,000 to £4,000.
Previously, those who failed to pay for a TV licence faced a £1,000 fine and a criminal record. In 2012, almost 180,000 TV license-related criminal cases were brought before the courts, with 70 given a custodial sentence.
The reforms of the financial penalties surrounding TV licensing are intended to persuade the courts to issue more fines, and to move away from custodial and community punishments.
Related: Five myths about the BBC TV Licence busted and How to save £8,000 by never paying for the TV LicenceThis announcement comes in the wake of ministers announcing their intent to decriminalize non-payment of a TV License from 2015 onwards.
Other financial penalties being increased in the same proposals include those for motoring offences. Speeding on a motorway will soon attract a maximum fine of £10,000, whilst breaking the speed limit on dual carriageways will attract a fine of £4,000
A TV license is mandatory for anyone who watches live television in the UK, regardless of the device used. It costs up to £145.50 per year, with discounts available for those with black and white televisions. Revenue earned from the license fee is used to pay for the BBC.
A TV Licensing spokesperson said: “Increasing maximum fines is a Government decision and not something we have requested. The average fine for TV Licence evasion is £169. Fines are guided by the Magistrates’ Courts Sentencing Guidelines which, we understand from the Sentencing Council, are not set to change.”