Year in review: How is Crimestoppers working to reduce energy theft?
As we approach our second anniversary of live operations at the Retail Energy Code, we want to take a moment to reflect on the efforts to reduce UK energy theft over the past year. Primarily, we aim to reduce energy theft via the Energy Theft Tip-Off Service, which Crimestoppers operate on our behalf. The service exists for members of the public to report suspected theft of gas and electricity anonymously. Crimestoppers securely notify the tip-off to the relevant gas or electricity supplier for investigation. The public-facing brand of the ETTOS is Stay Energy Safe, developed to engage with energy customers across the country.
What does the Stay Energy Safe brand do?
The Stay Energy Safe marketing is run all year round and is overseen by Crimestoppers; this activity has several aims:
- Drive reports about suspicions of energy theft to the ETTOS
- Raise awareness of energy theft and the dangers of stealing energy
- Deter people from tampering with their meters
Energy theft reports have increased year-on-year
Over the past year, the brand has mainly focused on two campaigns – ‘tick tock’ and ‘unknown danger.’ The Tick Tock campaign was initially launched in 2021 and focused on the idea that energy theft is a ticking time bomb. The campaign featured YouTube videos, social media, paid social, Google ads, radio advertising, and out-of-home activity. Last year, Crimestoppers reported that the number of people contacting the ETTOS increased by 21% year-on-year due to this campaign.
In January 2023, Crimestoppers launched the ‘unknown danger’ campaign, focusing on people’s current struggle with the energy crisis.
There have also been a number of tactical campaigns, which have included talking about the challenges posed by the Freeman of the Land, as well as messages warning people about meter scammers (those offering to tamper with a meter for a fee, with the promise of saving the bill payer money on their energy costs, whilst placing them on potential danger).
Crimestoppers’ forecast for 2023/24 suggests that more people than ever will report energy theft. They also report that since the launch of ETTOS in 2016, there has consistently been year-on-year growth in the number of reports passed on to ETTOS partners.
In September and October 2023, we will undertake the next consumer research phase. The first stage involves targeting 1,500 people with an omnibus questionnaire, which will provide us with audiences and personas across the UK population and measure energy theft awareness. Once we have an understanding of the personas, their behaviours, and attitudes towards energy theft, we will use this to access a panel of 58,000 data points to identify their media preferences, daily habits, what media they consume, when they consume it and what channels they are consuming it on. This will allow us to create a targeted channel strategy for our personas and a tailored messaging matrix to drive awareness.
How can you get involved?
The partner section on the Stay Energy Safe website has recently been updated, providing stakeholders with a range of assets and social media schedules. This can be found here: Partner | Stay Energy Safe
Crimestoppers is also always looking for success stories. They can help educate the public and demonstrate how important it is to speak up and stay safe, which helps encourage people to pass on what they know.