A round-up of our Energy Theft Forum – June 2023

On June 28th, we hosted an Energy Theft Forum to update our stakeholders on the work being done to reduce energy theft in the UK. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend. In this article, you can find a summary of the event, the webinar recording, slides and our next steps.

An update on our Energy Theft Reduction strategy

We explained at the forum that we seek to deliver a rounded energy theft reduction strategy. Our strategy involves gaining a deeper understanding of the problem, implementing measures to prevent theft, enhancing the industry’s ability to detect theft, and equipping the industry with effective response tools. At the energy theft workshop held in November 2022, we identified five priorities for our strategy:

  1. Re-establish the theft expert group and stakeholder forum;
  2. Raise awareness of the scale and impact of energy theft;
  3. Develop theft data hub and analytics;
  4. Improve the whole-of-system incentives to prevent, detect and investigate theft;
  5. Explore the feasibility of improving the police focus on energy theft.

We’re using an agile methodology to deliver these objectives – associated actions are delivered as a series of ‘Epics.’

How are Crimestoppers working to reduce energy theft?

Crimestoppers provided an overview of Stay Energy Safe – the public-facing brand of the Energy Theft Tip-Off Service. Stay Energy Safe lets anyone report energy theft anonymously 24 hours a day. These tip-offs are then assessed to determine if they are actionable and sent to the relevant energy supplier. Crimestoppers deliver marketing and communications to promote Stay Energy Safe throughout the year, seeking to raise awareness and increase the number of energy theft reports. Their work has been successful, with the number of reports steadily increasing year-on-year. More than 10,000 reports were received in 2022 alone.

Crimestoppers also highlighted that the Partner section of the Stay Energy Safe website is about to be updated to improve the user experience. Industry participants are encouraged to use the assets and information on this page to raise awareness about energy theft.

Could Smart Meter data be used to detect energy theft?

During the forum, we explained that the feasibility of using smart meter data to improve theft detection is currently being considered. The intention would be to back-test on reported thefts to determine which, if any, smart meter alerts correlate with instances of energy theft and whether these could be used to predict and detect theft in the future.

How can we successfully collaborate with the police force?

A representative from the City of London police force joined us, and attendees were invited to share their thoughts on areas that may not work as well as they could. The discussion covered the following:

  • How information can be better exchanged with the police force
  • Issues around executing warrants
  • The current situation around prosecuting energy theft
  • The lack of clear guidance on what support police can provide

How can we improve data collection and reporting?

We provided an overview of the data currently submitted to RECCo by the industry concerning energy theft investigations. Currently, we only collect data relating to the Theft Detection Incentive Scheme, and the data hasn’t been reviewed for a few years. Additional data could be useful for:

  • Supporting the potential Funded Prosecution Unit
  • Lead generation
  • Health and safety
  • The Theft Estimation Methodology (TEM)
  • Trend analysis

Attendees ranked supporting a funded energy theft prosecution unit and reporting health and safety information for RP operative safet y as the most important use of additional data.

Should we engage with water companies?

Shamil from Npower explained that engaging with water companies could be beneficial, as water can be stolen alongside energy. Energy-intensive cryptocurrency mining is also starting to make use of water cooling. It was suggested that water companies should be invited to join the UKPRA.

Should third-party theft be incorporated into the theft reduction strategy?

Third-party theft is the theft of energy after it has been metered. Attendees at the energy theft forum were polled; 40% supported including third-party theft, and 33% were unsure.

Watch the webinar

You can watch the webinar in full here. You can also access the slides here.

The next steps

A list of actions was noted from the discussions, and we’d appreciate if Parties could address the actions allocated to them, to aid in the progression of the Energy Theft Programme.

The next forum is scheulded for Wednesday, November 29, 2023 and we invite you to send topics which you wish to be discussed to TechnicalEnquiries@recmanager.co.uk.

Action No. Action Action Owner
 01/01: Forum attendees are asked to share with RECCo any documentation they may have that would help RECCo understand their energy theft end-to-end processes (the material should be emailed to technicalenquiries@recmanager.co.uk). The Energy Theft End-to-End Process Mapping Project will utilise the documentation received. REC Parties
 01/02: REC Parties are to contact RECCo if they can share their smart meter data to back-test confirmed thefts against smart alerts (subject to appropriate GDPR controls being put in place). REC Parties
 01/03:  RECCo to ensure that up-to-date information is available on the energy theft epics on the RECCo website. RECCo
 01/04:  RECCo to consider the impacts of MHHS on potential future data sources. RECCo
 01/05: RECCo to consider whether AMR meter alerts should also be brought into the smart alert backtesting scope. RECCo
 01/06: PH to share the questions he has sought advice on around gaps in legislation. NBCC
 01/07: RECCo to explore whether there is a gap in legislation around who the victims of energy theft are, given that energy theft is paid for by all GB energy consumers through higher bills. RECCo
 01/08: Forums attendees to share views on what additional data items would be useful for theft detection with RECCo via technicalenquiries@recmanager.co.uk. REC Parties


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