Southampton is ranked third in a top ten list cities most at risk from illegal gas fitters.

New research has revealed that thousands of people across Southampton are putting themselves at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning, gas leaks, fires and explosions by employing illegal gas engineers who aren’t properly qualified.

Gas Safe Register, the nation’s official legal gas registration scheme, found that 17 per cent of people in Southampton who employed a tradesperson to work on a gas appliance did not check their ID card or qualifications.

The organisation found that over the last four years that 80 per pent of those jobs carried out by illegal fitters in Southampton were unsafe and one fifth were so dangerous the appliance had to be disconnected immediately.

Of the cities studied only Leeds (96 per cent) and Nottingham (86 per cent) had worse figures.

The study found that people in Southampton are most likely to employ a tradesperson based on recommendations from friends or family members (47 per cent), and trust them based on their personal presentation (49 per cent) or how official they look (28 per cent), rather than on their qualifications (11 per cent).

Matt Allwright, consumer rights champion, said: “It is vital that people don’t just trust a friendly face but make sure fitters are Gas Safe registered and qualified to work in their property, as the consequences of an unsafe gas appliance can be fatal.”

Jonathan Samuel, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, said: “Our investigation team’s data shows how dangerous it is to let unregistered gas fitters carry out work in your home. We are therefore calling on people to ‘trust the triangle’ by checking for the Gas Safe Register logo on gas fitters’ ID cards, and help keep their families safe by only employing registered engineers who are qualified to work on the appliance in question.”