21st November 2014

Judith Donovan with Meg Munn MP at the Lifewise Centre, South Yorkshire

Judith Donovan (left) with Meg Munn MP at the Lifewise centre, South Yorkshire

I was on the set of Coronation Street today – okay, maybe not THE Coronation Street, but a similar street scene – houses, front doors - really impressive.  And I wasn’t popping into the Rovers either – I was learning all about how to avoid distraction burglaries.

On the face of it that may not seem to have much to do with choosing how to receive your bills and statements. But I was invited as Yorkshire Water takes very seriously its responsibility to vulnerable customers, and wanted to demonstrate that by officially adopting the six-point Keep Me Posted pledge.

The move means that more than four million of the company’s customers are now guaranteed to keep the choice of receiving their information either on paper or online, whichever they prefer, a fantastic move, and right on my doorstep -  I’m one of their customers!

It’s great to have this pledge from Yorkshire Water, showing they want to look after the people they serve. Which is why, as well as joining Keep Me Posted, they are joining forces with South Yorkshire Police to look after their customers in other ways too. According to the police, someone posing as a representative of “the water board” is one of the top tactics used by people looking to commit a distraction burglary, as they use this ploy to gain access to people’s homes.

It works like this – someone from the “water board” – even though there haven’t been water boards for about 20 years! – knocks on the door and tells you there are problems with water quality along the street. Could you just pop upstairs and check the colour of the water coming out of the bath taps? And hey presto, while you’re upstairs, they’re running out the back with your handbag.

Andy Foster, project officer from South Yorkshire Police, took me, along with local MP Meg Munn, also a Keep Me Posted supporter, to the street set to demonstrate how such scams work, and to show how they are working with Yorkshire Water to combat this. They have introduced a scheme called Helping Hands, which means Yorkshire Water employees will have a password to share with the customer before they gain admittance to their home. Andy says such schemes have worked to decrease distraction burglaries by 70 per cent in the last seven years.

So hats off to Yorkshire Water for both measures dedicated to looking after vulnerable customers, and for giving me food for thought to help prevent another type of crime altogether.

Judith Donovan