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Four firms fined as Thames Water cracks down on water theft 

Monday 26th April 2021 15:38

Quattro Plant Ltd was fined after using illegal standpipes to take water from a hydrant in Croydon last year

Four companies have been ordered to pay a combined £18,000 after illegally tapping into Thames Water hydrants across London and the Thames Valley.

The directors of J Ffrench, Quattro Plant, Centurion Power Cleaning and National Road Sweepers pleaded guilty last month to offences under the Water Industry Act 1991 and the Water Supply and Fitting Regulations 1999, which took place last year.

The companies were prosecuted by Thames Water after the company caught them using illegal standpipes to take water from hydrants across the region.

Jason Ffrench, director of J Ffrench Ltd, pleaded guilty to three offences at Willesden Magistrates Court on March 18 after using an unauthorised standpipe in Brent Cross, London in December last year. He was ordered to pay £2,726.

Adam Richardson, director of Quattro Plant Ltd, appeared at Reading Magistrates Court the following day (March 19) and pleaded guilty to six offences for using standpipes in Winnersh and Croydon in May and October last year. The company, which was fined more than £8,000 in 2019 for seven similar offences, was ordered to pay £7,502.

Marcus Rickard, managing director of Centurion Power Cleaning Ltd, and Munya Chiromo, operations director of National Road Sweepers Ltd, both appeared at Oxford Magistrates Court on March 26.

Rickard pleaded guilty to three offences in Wantage last July and must pay £4,516, while Chiromo admitted to two offences in Burford, Oxford, in August last year and was ordered to pay £3,378.

Claire Rumens, Thames Water’s illegal connections manager, said: “We work hard around the clock to cut leakage from our network and ask our customers to use water wisely, so it is not fair for others to take water without paying. 

“Over the last few years, we’ve ramped up our work to find and stop illegal connections, uncovering hundreds of offences and saving millions of litres of water. While we will always look to work with individuals and companies and consider court action a last resort, we will not hesitate to prosecute repeat offenders.”

With climate change and population growth putting a strain on water resources, the UK’s largest water company has clamped down on those using water but not paying for it. 

Since 2017, Thames Water has recovered more than £500,000 from contractors, landowners and other third parties who illegally took water from hydrants.

In January, street-sweeping company Supa Sweep Ltd was ordered to pay almost £7,500 after illegally tapping into a Thames Water hydrant three times over the previous summer, despite having been warned by the water company for a similar offence in February 2019.

All of the money is reinvested back into crucial work to provide clean and wastewater services to 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley.

Anyone found using a standpipe without permission will be given the opportunity to pay a charge. Those who fail to pay and repeat offenders will be prosecuted. 

To report any water network abuse email or call customer service on 0800 980 8800. Find out more about obtaining Thames Water standpipes.