Town tops table of shame

IPSWICH today has the unwanted accolade of being top of TV Licensing's annual Suffolk league of shame.A record total of 4,654 evaders were caught without a TV licence in the East Anglia in 2003.

IPSWICH today has the unwanted accolade of being top of TV Licensing's annual Suffolk league of shame.

A record total of 4,654 evaders were caught without a TV licence in the East Anglia in 2003.

The table exposes the towns and cities where TV licensing has successfully caught high numbers of evaders. Ipswich heads the list after recording 1,057 TV licence dodgers caught in the last 12 months.

Trailing behind were Lowestoft with 346 evaders caught and Bury St Edmunds with 99 evaders caught in 2003.

TV Licensing's operation to catch evaders is driven by its database of more than 28 million addresses, which records whether a property in the UK is licensed or unlicensed.

This means inquiry officers only visit properties where there is no record of a TV licence. Officers also have access to detection equipment including detector vans and handheld scanners.

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Vanessa Wood, spokesperson for TV Licensing said: "This is perhaps the only league where it's good to be relegated. Evaders in Ipswich are the biggest losers because they have been caught breaking the law. It is unfair to the honest majority of people who are properly licensed that this unwanted accolade has been awarded to their town.

"Those who are caught risk an appearance in court, a fine of up to £1,000, and court costs as well as the price of a licence. It is a tough penalty to pay.

"We do understand that there are some people who genuinely struggle to pay for the licence in one lump sum.

"However, there are still people out there deliberately evading the law and the number of evaders being caught without a TV licence proves our commitment to reducing the level of evasion. The recent increase in number of enquiry officers on the streets will assist in our determination at catching those licence dodgers."

Anyone who installs or uses television equipment to receive or record television programme services must be properly licensed by law. If caught, evaders risk a trip to court, prosecution, a fine of up to £1,000 plus costs and they still have to obtain a valid licence. Last year TV Licensing caught around 1,000 licence fee evaders each day.

For more information on the concessions available and ways to pay, please call 0870 241 5590 or visit www.tvlicensing.co.uk

N How do you think licence-dodgers should be dealt with? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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