THOUSANDS of people around the region were caught watching television without a licence last year, new figures show.

TV Licensing, which issues licences and monitors evasion, said almost 95 per cent of homes were correctly licensed in 2012, but a small minority are still watching illegally.

Figures released by the company show that more than 2,800 people were caught without a licence in Middlesbrough, while 1,000 people in Darlington, 1,400 in Stockton and 1,200 people in Hartlepool were prosecuted.

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Lucy Baird, TV Licensing spokeswoman, said: “The data released today shows evasion remains at historically low levels of approximately five per cent, with the overwhelming majority of people ensuring there are correctly licensed.

TV Licensing has urged people to look at different ways to pay for their licence if they struggle to afford the cost in one go, including weekly cash payment schemes, a savings card or monthly direct debit.

Anyone who watches television programmes on any device without a license risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

For information about licensing requirements and ways to pay, visit