TV Licence Dodgers May Not Be Prosecuted
TV licence dodgers may no longer face prosecution in the courts under new plans being considered by the Government.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling says "serious work" on the plan is under way, with more than 100 cross-party MPs in support.
"The Culture Secretary (Maria Miller) and I both agree that this is a really interesting idea, particularly given the pressure on our courts system," Mr Grayling told The Daily Telegraph.
"Our departments will be doing some serious work on the proposal."
Efforts to change the law are being spearheaded by Tory MP Andrew Bridgen.
He said that for some cash-strapped families, the current law was "criminalising them for being poor".
"It is outrageous that so many people are brought into the criminal justice system through this means. I believe that non-payment should be treated in the way that parking tickets are," Mr Bridgen told the newspaper.
"It is absurd that the courts are being clogged up by such a minor offence."
Offenders currently face a £1,000 fine and a criminal record, as well as possible time in jail if fines are not paid.
Some 180,000 people faced magistrates last year after being accused of not paying the £145.50 fee, accounting for in excess of one in 10 of all criminal prosecutions.
Of those, 155,000 people were convicted and fined.
The proposed changes could see dodging payment of the TV licence become a civil matter, with a fine set by the Government.
A BBC spokesman said: "Legislation is a matter for the Government. However, changing the law could lead to higher evasion. Just a 1% increase in evasion would lead to the loss of around £35m, the equivalent of around 10 BBC Local Radio stations."
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