Vast majority jailed for TV licence fines walk free within hours

Numbers being jailed for non-payment of levy has increased dramatically in recent years

Last year, 242 people were jailed for not paying fines after failing to pay  their €160 TV licence.

Last year, 242 people were jailed for not paying fines after failing to pay their €160 TV licence.

Thu, Sep 5, 2013, 18:04


The vast majority of those jailed for not paying TV licence fines last year spent only a few hours in prison, new figures show.

Last year, 242 people were jailed for not paying fines after failing to pay their €160 TV licence.

Figures provided by the Prison Service in response to a freedom of information request show that the 97.5 per cent of those jailed walked free within hours, irrespective of the sentence handed down in court.

The figures show that of the 242 jailed, 236 were jailed for less than one day, with six prisoners staying in jail overnight before walking free.

Those who do not pay the TV licence can face fines of up to €1,000 or a term in prison if the fine is not paid .

Fianna Fáil spokesman for justice Niall Collins yesterday described the jailing of those not paying TV licence fines as “a terrible waste of State time and resources”.

The average cost of a prison space in 2012 was €65,404.

The numbers being jailed for non-payment of TV licence has increased dramatically in recent years – the 242 jailed last year compared to 183 jailed in 2011 and represents almost a five-fold increase on the 49 jailed in 2008.

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said yesterday: “All prisoners committed to custody on a fine sentence are considered on a case-by-case basis by the Prison Service. When making an determination of whether to hold the person in custody a number of factors are taken into account, including the nature of the offence, the amount of the fine and the length of the sentence and the prisoner’s previous offences.”

He added: “While each case is considered individually, it is the case that fine sentence prisoners generally spend very little time in custody, with the majority being released on the same day. On September 4th, 2013, there were 11 prisoners in custody on a fine sentence.”

The level of non-compliance relating to the non-payment of the €160 TV licences is at 15 per cent. representing an estimated €28.3 million in lost revenues.

An Post collects TV licence fees and last year sold over a million licences, representing €160 million in revenues.

Last year, the number of prosecutions initiated by An Post against those who failed to pay their TV licence on time was 11,500 – an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year. A spokesman said: “On average 50 per cent of people are paying before the licence expires or within a couple of days expiring. 10.25 per cent of the sales are by way of direct debit instalments, while around 11.5 per cent of licences purchased use savings stamps to pay.”