Capita has pledged to subject cowboy operators to an “enforcement factory” when it takes over the running of the gas installer registration scheme next April.
Andy Stoll, scheme manager at Capita told H&V News it would enlist the help of the public and registered gas installers to provide them with intelligence on rogues.
Capita would then build dossiers on the illegals and co-ordinate with a number of agencies to prosecute them.
In a bid to get the public involved, Capita will offer free carbon monoxide alarms to consumers who inform it about work completed by unregistered installers.
This is intended to provide Capita with inspection targets, which it hopes will lead to prosecutions.
“We have a lot of experience in gaining prosecutions,” said Mr Stoll. “Last year, we successfully prosecuted 130,000 people who consistently refused to pay their TV licences.
“Capita is developing protocols with the Health and Safety Executive that will deal with a range of illegal gas installer scenarios.
“For each transgression, installers will know exactly what action to expect from us. For the most serious cases, we will say to the Health & Safety Executive, Inland Revenue and Trading Standards: ‘look, we’ve done the legwork, prosecute or issue a prohibition notice’.
“We are looking to create an enforcement factory rather than lobbing the problem over to someone else. We have analysed cases and the most successful tend to use a multi-agency approach, covering a number of laws and regulations.
“That way the fines mount up.”
Bob Towse, head of technical and safety at the HVCA, said that illegal workers were a major bugbear for his members and he welcomed Capita’s stance.
“There have been longstanding concerns that Corgi had its hands tied, and the HSE often merely gave rogue installers a slap on the wrist, if they were prosecuted at all,” he said.
“Perhaps now is the time for the HSE to take a back seat and let Capita, with its relevant experience, take the lead.
“We would welcome a faster process for punishing the cowboys, perhaps similar to the way TV license dodgers are dealt with.”
Mr Stoll added that Capita would investigate enforcement arrangements more broadly from April and weigh up the costs and benefits of changing legislation.
This would cover issues such as the introduction of fixed penalty charge notices, and the sale of gas-using goods and parts. Capita said it would also investigate issues that are preventing honest installers getting registered.
It will look at application processes, ways to pay, training and qualifications.
This will include a review of competency requirements, covering all routes of entry into the industry, including ACS and NVQs.
“We want to make it easy for installers to choose to register,” said Mr Stoll.
All your questions answered. Read our Rough Guide to the new gas installer registration