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Demand in Meter Investigations Rises

The  independent forensic testing facility for the investigation of possible fraudulent us of supply meters is well established at Scienco. The service includes the production of reports for the Crown Prosecution Service and when required the provision of expert witnesses for court appearance.

The following article summarises some of the recent interest in the subject and the the requirements of suppliers and transporters.

"Energy watchdog Ofgem is to crack down on gas and electricity theft, the BBC reported"

"The UK Revenue Protection Agency estimates theft costs around 350m a year, which is passed on to customers.

Although suppliers are obliged to tackle fraud such as meter tampering, the cost of debt recovery provides little incentive, said Ofgem.

Thieves use devices such as knitting needles to tamper with meters, said a BBC Radio Five Live report.

The safety risks involved in fraud will also be highlighted, with some of the worst examples of meter tampering having resulted in fatal house fires.

Ofgem said the rules governing what action should be taken against fraudsters are 15 years old and need to be reviewed, said the report.

Under current rules supplier, such as British Gas and Scottish Power, have an "obligation" to investigate and target thieves.

But Ofgem said it was not in their interests to do so because of a system called "smearing" which means all the companies pay for all the losses, and ultimately their customers pay the price.

Gas Transporter's  Licence Obligations

Gas transporters are required to:

  • Assess safety risk from metering equipment that is unsafe.

  • Investigate and recover charges where interference is before the consumer's control valve.

  • Investigate and recover charges where there is interference after the consumer's control valve and there is no contract between a gas supplier and the user.

  • When the theft is after the consumer's control valve, record details of allegation, inform the shipper of theft and record the findings of the investigation.

  • Set up reasonable endeavours scheme and process claims accordingly.

  • Maintain records of the theft allegations, results of the investigation and recover energy stolen.

Public Reported Figures by one Supplier

Number of Allegations Received:

  • 2000 - 10,708

  • 2001 - 13,590

  • 2002 - 5,988

  • 2003 - 5,180

  • 2004 - 2,247  (up to 31 May 2004)

Number of Valid Allegations:

  • 2000 - 167 (1.6% of those received)

  • 2001 - 170 (1.3% of those received)

  • 2002 - 855 (14.3% of those received)

  • 2003 - 979 (19% of those received)

  • 2004 - 642 (29% of those received)  (up to 31 May 2004)

Furthers Investigations to Follow

As a result of the investigations, the need to actively investigate, theft of gas has increased. In response Scienco has expanded its meter examination facilities in preparation for the increase in demand.

If you would like further information on this subject or assistance with investigations, follow the contact link below or call us on our local rate number 0845 6039053.