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UTILITY COMPANIES MUST INFORM SOCIAL SERVICES ABOUT PEOPLE AT RISK

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There is nothing in the Data Protection Act to prevent utilities alerting ...
There is nothing in the Data Protection Act to prevent utilities alerting

social services about people being at risk, health minister Stephen Ladyman

told BBC Radio Four's Today programme this morning.

Mr Ladyman was commenting on the case of the elderly couple in south London,

found dead some weeks after their gas had been cut off. British Gas believed

data protection law banned it from informing social services that the couple

were without heating.

'I'll certainly be taking up the challenge to have a look at the Act to see

how it worked in this case', Mr Ladyman said. 'The suspicion that someone is

vulnerable and perhaps could do with a visit from social services does not

seem to me to be a protectable piece of information under the Act'.

A report out from the Met Office and the Faculty of Public Health says 2,500

people will die of cold in Christmas week, Today reported. A higher

proportion of people, mainly elderly, die of cold in Britain than in Finland

or Russia, the report says.

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