ALMOST 200 people have been caught watching TV without a licence in Shrewsbury, new figures reveal.

A total of 190 homes received visits from inspectors in a six-month period since January.

Anyone watching TV illegally risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

Mark Whitehouse, West Midlands spokesman for TV Licensing, said: “We take TV Licence evasion very seriously and we will not hesitate to prosecute if people continue to break the law.

“We do understand some people may find it difficult to pay their licence fee in one go, which is why we offer numerous ways to spread the cost, including a weekly cash payment plan, a savings card and monthly direct debit scheme.”

Mr Whitehouse said the average evasion rate remained at a low of just over five per cent, meaning almost 95 per cent of properties were correctly licensed.

Carol Siarkiewicz, executive director at the Institute of Money Advisers, added: “Lots of people struggle with their finances.

“But if you choose to watch TV without being correctly licensed you’re breaking the law and risk making it worse.

“We welcome the ways in which TV Licensing makes it as easy as possible for people to spread the cost of their TV licence and make payments online.

“But if you’re having trouble, we urge you to give TV Licensing a call or seek help from a free money adviser in your area.”

A colour TV licence costs £145.50 and is required by anyone watching or recording TV programmes as they are shown on TV, whether they are using a TV set, computer, or other equipment.