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ScottishPower Launches New Public Safety Advertising Campaign To Help Combat Worrying Thefts From Substations


  • Nearly 1500 substations targeted since January 2011
  • More than 140,000 homes put at increased risk as a result of the thefts
  • Up to £10,000 rewards on offer for information about criminals that leads to a conviction

A new hard hitting advertising campaign is to be launched by ScottishPower Energy Networks in response to the worrying number of thefts and attempted thefts of metal from electricity substations. Since January 2011 the company has experienced 1435 individual substation attacks, which have put hundreds of thousands of nearby residents in potential danger.

With a nod to the public safety adverts of the 70’s and 80’s, ScottishPower’s new ‘Copped It’ campaign seeks to illustrate the very real safety threats that are caused by mindless criminal activity in and around its substations and power lines. As part of the campaign ScottishPower is also willing to pay up to £10,000 to any member of the public who can provide information that leads to a conviction on criminals involved in metal theft from its equipment.

Every substation supplies an average of 100 local homes, and every theft or act of vandalism can damage equipment and disrupt voltages, which can potentially lead to damaged household appliances or even cause fires. Thieves typically leave damaged substations unsecured, which puts children and other passers-by at risk. Engineers and staff from the emergency services who respond to faults are also unnecessarily put at risk in order to enter damaged substations to fix the faults that have been caused.

Frank Mitchell, CEO of ScottishPower Energy Networks, said: “It is a misconception that stealing metal from a substation or a power line is a victimless crime. This year alone we have seen one attempted theft result in a fatality, a whole street in Kilbarchan affected by a power surge causing damage in their homes and tens of thousands of other homes have experienced interruptions to their power supplies.

“The worrying reality of this kind of criminal behaviour is the serious impact it can have on local communities. As well as continuing to increase our own security and working closely with the Police, we want to raise awareness of the threats posed by these kinds of thefts, and we want to encourage people in communities to report any suspicious behaviour they see beside our power lines and substations. We are happy to pay rewards for information that leads to criminal convictions, and we want to work closely with communities to help catch the criminals responsible for this dangerous activity.”

The ‘Copped It’ campaign will appear in print publications and on radio from Monday 21st October. The creative thread will explore the range of impacts that can be caused by metal theft, highlighting the risks posed to communities, those responding to incidents and the serious risks to the criminals involved in thefts.

Metal Theft in Figures - ScottishPower Statistics:

  • 1435 substation attacks since January 2011.
  • Over 140,000 homes exposed to increased risks of faults or potential damage.
  • Over 11,000 man-hours spent on repairs and reinforcements.
  • 50,000 homes in Glasgow lost power supplies for 30 minutes in November 2011 after an attempted theft.
  • 50 homes in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, experienced damaged appliances after a theft from a substation in May 2013.
  • More than 20 substations were targeted in the Saltcoats area in one weekend alone in June 2013.
  • A spate of incidents in Dumfries and Galloway in January 2013 saw live overhead power lines being cut down by hacksaws.
  • A fatality of a 43 year old man occurred in July 2013 following an attempted theft from a pole mounted substation in Lanarkshire.


Notes to Editors:

  • Members of the public who spot any suspicious behaviour beside ScottishPower substations and power lines are encouraged to report the matter to the company’s 24 hour response line on 0845 272 7999. Financial rewards will be paid by the company for any information that leads to a criminal conviction.

  • ScottishPower Energy Networks is the licensed Electricity Distributor (DNO) for Central & Southern Scotland and for Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales and North Shropshire. We have 30,000 substations (one substation for every 100 customers), 40,000km overhead lines (once around the globe), and 70,000km underground cables.

  • We also operate the Transmission Network in Central and Southern Scotland. We take electricity generated from power stations, windfarms and various other utilities and transport it through our vast transmission network, consisting of over 4000 kilometres of overhead and 320 kilometers of underground lines. We have 129 transmission substations in our network that help us to manage extra high voltage electricity supplies.

  • We are a substantial employer with a workforce of 2500 internal employees based at 17 locations in the South of Scotland and 17 locations in England and Wales. We engage around 2800 contractors across these areas. We operate in three of the UK's largest cities (Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Liverpool) accounting for 1.6m (43%) of our customers, as well as three significant rural areas (Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway and North

Media information – ScottishPower Press Office - 0141 614 4660