Energy operators warn against meter tampering over fire risk


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Energy operators have warned of the risks associated with meter tampering and general electrical equipment interference with new figures showing an almost 400% increase in reported incidents between 2017 and 2021, a trend officials predict will continue to rise in 2022. 

It was shown that tampering with meters and cutting into wires or pipes to interfere with energy supplies has caused house fires, gas leaks and electrocutions and that electricity meters in UK premises are connected to a voltage that can be fatal if not installed by a qualified professional and gas meters ensure there’s a constant and safe flow of gas into a property.  

Investigators recently identified illegal meter tampering as the cause of a tragic fire that gutted a property in Glasgow and led to a woman’s death. Police discovered the fire was started by a spark from a prepayment meter that had been illegally bypassed. 

The dramatic rise in tampering and electrical equipment interference is causing increased risk of incidents for householders as operators are seeing DIY attempts at meter tampering that frequently lead to live electricity conductors being exposed or unsealed holes in gas supply pipes. 

David Spillett, Head of Safety, Health and Environment at Energy Networks Association (ENA), which represents the UK’s electricity and gas network operators, had the following safety warning:  “Tampering with your meter can create a ticking time bomb in your home.   

“The UK’s electrical and gas engineers are highly trained professionals who ensure your home’s power system is entirely safe –  tampering with their work risks serious harm to yourself, neighbours and your loved ones and damage to your property that will not be covered by insurance –  it’s just not worth the risk. 

“If you are struggling to pay your energy bill, please speak to your energy supplier or contact Citizen’s Advice for free and impartial advice.” 

Peter Smith,  Director of Policy, National Energy Action said: “National Energy Action campaigns to ensure everyone in the UK can live in a warm and safe home. Given the recent relentless increases in energy bills, we know 6.7 million UK households are now in fuel poverty. The crisis is fuelling many types of unsafe and dangerous coping strategies in the home as millions try and adjust to record high bills.

“This worrying research indicates tampering with energy meters is now on the rise and while the motives, scale and the impact of related injuries or incidents is still largely unknown, it’s right to warn people of the risks.

“Meter tampering can be exceptionally dangerous and in extreme incidents can be life threatening – not only to the perpetrators but also nearby neighbours.”

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