The number of people prosecuted for electricity theft in England and Wales are highest in Merseyside, with a “significant amount” related to cannabis farms.
New figures from the Crown Prosecution Service reveal 267 people in the region were charged and reached a first hearing at Magistrates’ Courts in 2014/15.
It was followed by 178 cases in Greater Manchester, 144 in London and 124 in Lancashire.
That’s out of a total of 1,582 cases that went to court during that period.
The figures also revealed Merseyside had seen the largest three-year increase in prosecution numbers, with 112 in 2012/13 and rising to 202 in 2013/14.
The UK Revenue Protection Association (UKRPA) told ELN a third of the total value of stolen electricity was related to cannabis farms and production of the Class B drug.
The rest would have been for “need or greed”, a spokesperson added.
UKRPA estimates the value of stolen energy is up to £440 million every year.
It has been working with energy supplier ScottishPower and Merseyside Police since 2013 to proactively identify cannabis cultivation, safely dismantle them and recover evidence to secure criminal prosecutions.
Ian Main from ScottishPower Revenue Protection Service said having an electrician within the police unit means they can make the property “safe for police to enter, quickly and efficiently”.
Sgt Angie Norstrom from Merseyside Police’s cannabis dismantling team added: “We will use every piece of legislation at our disposal to go after the criminals behind cannabis cultivation and the cultivation of drugs and that includes electricity theft. This partnership helps the police team, who dismantle these crime scenes, to detect common patterns and techniques meaning that they are more likely to be spotted and dealt with”.
UKRPA said it is open to similar initiatives with other regional police forces and energy companies.