FIGURES show that 137 people in West Dunbartonshire were caught out not paying their TV licence last year — but only one person was prosecuted.
Thirty-six men and 101 women were snared by TV licensing chiefs for not stumping up the annual £145.50 fee.
The person fined was a woman in the 35-54 age group, according to 2013/14 statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Campaigner Caroline Levesque-Bartlett started an online petition against paying the TV licence, which has gained more than 160,000 supporters.
The fees subsidise the BBC, and Caroline argues it is unfair that anyone is prosecuted for refusing to subsidise a broadcaster.
The Torquay woman also told the Post that it is often the poorest that are caught and find themselves in trouble with the law.
She said: “I believe it’s a disgrace to prosecute even one person for the sake of making television. Coercive methods seem unnecessary in this century when other broadcasters have found ways around it.
“Considering that West Dunbartonshire has the second worst deprivation levels in Scotland, and considering that nearly 74 per cent of the offenders in this local authority are women, you can pretty much guarantee that a large number of TV licence offenders are at home single mothers who simply can’t afford the TV licence fee.
“But of course, money is not everything. Many people object to TV licensing on the principle. Because West Dunbartonshire strongly voted ‘Yes’ in the independence referendum, you can expect a certain number of the population are now using TV licence evasion as a means to protest for the bias during the BBC coverage of the referendum.” Caroline’s fellow camapigner Duncan Edelston, from Edinburgh, added: “The situation in West Dunbartonshire epitomises all that’s wrong with the TV Licence and looks like a direct effect of the level of deprivation. As 2013 figures show 22 per cent of the population on benefits, compared to 15.4 per cent for Scotland, ESA and incapacity benefits of 10.2 per cent, against 7.6 per cent for Scotland.” Almost 13,500 people in Scotland were found guilty of failing to pay their TV licence in the last year, with those in Glasgow most likely to be offenders.
Figures obtained under a freedom of information (FOI) request show that 13,486 people were fined out of court under the Communications Act 2003 and that 28 were found guilty of breaching the act in court.
The fines are income-assessed and can reach £1,000 although the average is thought to be nearer £170. If the fine is not paid, the TV licence evader may end up in jail. In 2012, there were 50 people imprisoned for a short period at an average cost to the tax payer of £95 per day.
A spokeswoman for TV Licensing said prosecutors only deal with such cases as a last resort.
She said: “We know some people may find it difficult to pay but we do all we can to help, including offering weekly cash payment schemes.” To sign the petition against paying the TV Licence fee visit: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/end-the-bbc-licence-fee