Is force-fitting of prepayment meters ‘still allowed in Scotland’?

MSPs have called for an urgent moratorium on warrants issued to force fit meters

Scotland has reportedly become the only part of the UK that still allows the forcible fitting of prepayment meters (PPMs).

Last week, Lord Justice Edis, the senior presiding judge of England and Wales, issued directions to magistrates courts to stop approving warrants to force fit prepayment meters.

According to these directions, energy companies that want to “press their application” for such permission will now have to “satisfy the court in detail” about “the integrity of their procedures, in particular relating to the vulnerability of occupiers”.

Campaigners had previously called for a ban on PPM installations through court warrants – they believe that customers in debt who are forced onto a PPM by their supplier will often “self disconnect” and stop using energy.

This follows an urgent call for a review of energy companies’ practices after a Times investigation uncovered debt collectors installing forcibly meters in the homes of vulnerable people.

Commenting on The Times report, Katy Clark, West Scotland MSP called on the Scottish Government to introduce a moratorium on new warrants.

Mercedes Villalba, MSP for North East Scotland, said: “Already in other parts of the UK warrants are being denied to protect people from forced prepayment meter installation.

“There is no reason why the court service in Scotland cannot do the same. Warm words are not enough. We need action now.”

Monica Lennon, Central Scotland MSP said: “Breaking into people’s homes to force prepayment meters on them is despicable.

“That this is still being allowed to happen in Scotland is a damning indictment on our courts and government.”

A spokesperson for the Judicial Office for Scotland told ELN: “In Scotland, no utility warrants are considered in bulk. Each application is considered separately by a Justice of the Peace based on its individual facts and circumstances, taking into account the relevant statutory tests.

“Guidance is also in place for Justices of the Peace which sets out the steps in the process which should be followed when an application is being considered.

“These measures aim to safeguard the vulnerability of the domestic customer and that any action taken is proportionate. Opposed applications are heard by a sheriff.”

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