Drive to stop 'meter cheaters' being killed
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Health and also in Communities, Housing, Legal
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New guidelines have been launched to try and prevent ‘meter cheaters’ being killed or seriously injured while tampering with gas and electricity supplies.
Social landlord Liverpool Housing Trust (LHT) has helped to devise the protocol, which aims to ensure the swiftest response by energy companies in cases where people have tampered with meters, jeopardising public safety and increasing the risk of incidents such as fires and explosions.
LHT, which provides almost 10,000 homes in Merseyside and Cheshire, developed the protocol with the United Kingdom Revenue Protection Association (UKPRA), the trade association open to companies involved in detecting and dealing with meter tampering and the illegal abstraction of electricity and gas.
According to the UKRPA, energy regulator Ofgem estimates that gas and electricity theft could cost as much as £400 million a year.
Simon Brown, LHT's director of asset management, said: “Energy theft can kill and our staff and contractors are now fully trained to spot giveaway signs of energy theft, supporting our zero-tolerance approach to meter tampering.
“The introduction of the protocol demonstrates our commitment to working collaboratively with key partners to detect and report energy theft.
“Without the support of the UKRPA and energy providers, this protocol would not have been possible. We are very grateful for their support.”
The protocol includes agreed timescales in which energy companies will respond, once housing association staff or contractors have spotted that meters have been tampered with.
It also includes emergency contact numbers, an agreed process to escalate emergencies, and ways to share crucial information about incidents.
UKRPA Chairman Tony Thornton said: “Energy theft affects us all. This is an important initiative and I’d like to thank LHT for their help and support in getting us this far, leading to the launch of this first protocol.
“I have no doubt it will be an invaluable tool in the detection of energy theft within the rented housing sector and will lead to improved and safer working conditions for staff.
“I look forward to its extension to other like-minded landlords and housing associations.”