NEARLY 700 people have been caught watching television without a licence in Huddersfield.

Latest figures, for the first half of 2011, show 690 people in Huddersfield were caught, despite an extensive campaign to crackdown on those who flout the licensing law.

Nationally almost 197,000 people were caught in the same period.

TV Licensing spokesman Tim Downs said: “While the vast majority of people in the UK pay their licence fee, to be fair to those who pay we have to be firm with those who try to get away without paying.

“We take TV Licence evasion very seriously and we will not hesitate to prosecute if people continue to break the law.”

He said the authority would try to work with those who were struggling to pay the fee, where possible.

He added: “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, which can all be set up very quickly online.”

Caroline Siarkiewicz, executive director at the Institute of Money Advisers, said: “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.”

The current rate for a colour TV Licence is £145.50.

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