Ofgem: Energy firms need to clamp down on electricity theft more

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Ofgem has issued a rallying call to UK energy suppliers demanding they help it clamp down on the significant number of electricity thefts in the UK.

The energy regulator has pointed to figures suggesting the industry is victim to anything up to 25,000 cases of electricity theft each year, costing energy consumers more than £200m, or a figure of around £7 per electricity customer.

While the Government encourages UK energy consumers to be savvy when it comes to energy-efficiency, offering subsidies on energy-saving measures such as replacing old boilers or fitting loft insulation under its Green Deal initiative, many criminals are actively stealing electricity and hitting the consumer in the pocket.

Ofgem chief executive, Andrew Wright, said: "Ofgem wants to make sure that consumers are paying no more than they need to for their electricity, and lives are not put at risk.

"It's critical that suppliers do all they can to clamp down on electricity theft. This is why Ofgem is introducing new rules to encourage better theft detection."

The new Ofgem legislation will empower the regulator to penalise suppliers who do not comply with its rules on cracking down on the level of theft. Suppliers would be required to set up a national theft assessment service aimed at targeting  properties they are suspicious are stealing electricity.

Amongst other proposed rules, a 24-hour hotline would also be set up for customers to report suspected energy theft.

A spokesman for Energy UK, the trade association of the energy industry, welcomed the proposals.

He said: "Ofgem's consultation is a positive move to cut down crime, and we look forward to working closely with them, and others in the Industry, on this.

"Electricity theft is dangerous and illegal. Contact with live electricity cables can kill and tampered meters cause fires. Electricity theft also costs honest customers money which is why energy companies take this - and gas theft - very seriously .

"Every year our members detect and prosecute criminals. When energy companies find electricity thieves, they will prosecute."

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