What does the UK think about energy theft? Read to find out the latest studies, statistics and opinions on this contentious topic!
A research report has found that one in four UK residents wouldn’t report an instance of energy meter tampering, despite 92% agreeing that the practice is morally wrong.
It surveyed 2,000 UK residents and found that only 54% of the public would report a suspected instance of energy theft ‘without question,’ with a further 21% saying they would alert authorities to the crime, but only if it took place in their local vicinity.
“Whilst this is a disappointing finding, and one that increased awareness and education could look to reduce, ultimately there will always be people who place family or friendship loyalties as a priority or remain simply unconcerned by the crime."
Meter cheating causes at least one injury or death every 10 days in the UK, with an estimated £400m in electricity and gas stolen every year. Statistics show that 150,000 cases are investigated annually, but only around 1,500 people are charged.
A number of justifications arose amongst those who would not report an energy thief; namely the fact that it “wasn’t their business” (8%), that they would not want to betray a friend or family member involved (10%), or if they thought the person in question was doing it for a valid reason (4%).
“It’s also crucial that energy companies play their part in prioritising the investigation of suspected tampering cases. Resourcing challenges mustn’t get in the way of strengthened field investigation efforts, as at the end of the day consumer lives are at risk. In our experience up to 75% of investigations can be carried out effectively by non-technical in-house or outsourced resource.”
Turning a blind eye to this crime is a more common stance amongst younger people, with 33% of 18-24 year olds and 38% of 25-34 year olds preferring not to act on their knowledge in varying circumstances.
When asked why they wouldn’t report meter tampering, 44% of people said they would be worried about the potential personal repercussions, with a further 13% saying that it’s nothing to do with them. More than one in 10 said that they believe energy companies already make enough money and therefore energy theft causes no harm.
A fifth (19%) said that they wouldn’t know who to report it to, with 11% saying that there would be no point as it’s unlikely that anything would be done about it.
Lloyd Birkhead, managing director of Grosvenor Services Group, said:
“Demonstrating the impact of investigations is also key – rather than keeping the great work being done to tackle energy theft covert, more could be done to let the public know about meter changeovers, arrests and convictions, underlining how this has prevented injuries and will help tackle inflated bills.”
"These figures show that the energy sector mustn’t assume that the general public will be working with them to reduce energy theft; as it stands at least one quarter won’t."
Suggested Further Reading
Knowledge Centre: Blog
Knowledge Centre: Case Studies
More in the Knowledge centre
Echo’s customers can now benefit from a new era of water billing software...
Almost £3,000 has been raised by the Group’s employees and the donation has been tripled to £9,000 by the business,…
Water companies must build a stronger, more memorable and relevant brand to appeal to their latest generation of customers
New research reveals that Generation Z has low brand awareness when it comes to who supplies the water in their…
More Debt Recovery & Revenue Management
Social media companies have a duty to crack down on the numerous dangerous energy meter tamper tutorials present on their…
This is a worrying view from consumers and indicates that energy theft investigation may be viewed more as a cost…
How Echo's wholly owned field services agency, Grosvenor Services Group, supports one of the UK's big six energy providers in…