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Two in five consumers unaware of energy theft safety risks

From the Knowledge Centre

39% of people are unaware of the safety risks posed by energy theft | Only 46% of people would report energy theft because of risks to safety | There is a need to act against a serious shortfall in public understanding...

New research commissioned by Echo Managed Services and its wholly-owned revenue management subsidiary, Grosvenor Services Group, and endorsed by Crimestoppers UK, surveyed 2,000 UK residents and found worryingly low levels of awareness with regards to the practice of energy theft.

More than a third (39%) of UK consumers are unaware that energy theft can cause a serious and potentially life-threatening risk to their safety.

One in five (22%) people stated they are not aware that energy theft can lead to fires, with only around a quarter (26%) knowing that meter cheating can cause electric shocks. Perhaps even more concerning, a further 41% of people do not appreciate the risks of gas explosions or burns.

Awareness of potential dangers was particularly low in the 18-24 age band, with 53% of people stating that were oblivious to this potentially fatal practice.

When asked what their main reason would be for reporting an incident of energy theft, only 46% of people stated it would be due to the safety risk. This is a relatively low figure given the seriousness of the potential issues caused, pointing to a need for further education amongst the general public.

“It’s concerning that such a large proportion of the nation has no comprehension of the potentially fatal consequences and impact that the practice can have – not just on themselves, their home and their family but neighbours and other residents in the area, too. This is partly why consumers must be equipped with the information to take a more active interest in identifying and (more importantly) correctly reporting instances of energy theft."

Lloyd Birkhead, managing director, Grosvenor Services Group

One reason for such low awareness may be that reporting of the most serious real incidences of energy theft is relatively low. Gas explosions, for example, are not always reported as being as a result of a tampered meter, although highly suspected, unless 100% proven.

Understanding awareness levels across different demographics and targeting specific safety messaging to reach those segments where awareness is at its lowest could without a doubt benefit overall awareness levels and encourage people to speak up.

“Given that energy theft is under-reported, it’s understandable that the dangers of this crime are not fully understood by members of the UK public. Stay Energy Safe was set up to allow people to give information about energy crimes anonymously, but also to educate them on the potentially devastating consequences if it goes unreported. We hope that through this service, the public can have a significant impact on tackling this issue, which will help to improve the safety of people within their homes.”

Roger Critchell, director of operations, Crimestoppers UK

To report an instance of suspected meter tampering / energy theft anonymously, please visit the Stay Energy Safe website.

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