PLUMBERS have called on the Government to introduce compulsory registration in a bid to ward off a flood of cowboy operators.
Industry body the Institute of Plumbing (IOP) warned that unless moves are made to register genuine plumbers, cowboy operators could swamp the sector.
It claimed that the huge skills shortage and high earnings for self-employed plumbers is creating a climate for cowboys, many of whom have no knowledge of water and building regulations.
Dale Courtman, technical director at the IOP, labelled the influx of unqualified plumbers 'frightening'.
He said: 'It makes a mockery of the regulations, which were put in place to ensure safe practice.'
Chief executive Andy Watts said: 'This is a disaster waiting to happen. Unlike overseas countries, anyone in the UK can use the title 'plumber' and carry out work without any qualifications, experience or knowledge.
'It takes around three years to qualify as a plumber. Allowing people to trade with no qualifications puts the whole trade into disrepute.'