The new figures out recently show that the Coalition Government’s efforts to reduce metal theft are showing early signs of success. Metal theft fell every quarter over the last year – and by 40 per cent overall in 2012–13. This period coincides with tough new measures introduced by the Government to clamp down on the offence which causes distress and disruption to hard-working people.
This is a campaign that I have supported really strongly in the House and locally in Northumberland as there have been a number of genuine outrages, and a lot of inconveniece.
Last December the Government tightened the net around rogue sellers by:
• banning all scrap metal dealers from trading in cash;
• ending the practice of ‘no questions asked’ cash payments; and
• giving the police powers of entry to tackle illegal trading in metal yards.
On top of this, the Government established a National Metal Theft Taskforce to focus enforcement activity, and backed a new law introduced by Conservatives in Parliament which will:
• require scrap metal dealers to be licensed;
• allow councils to refuse or revoke licences if a dealer is deemed unsuitable; and
• give magistrates the power to issue rogue traders with fines of up to £5,000.
These powers under the Scrap Metal Act 2013 came into full effect on Sunday 1 December, and are bedding in well. Metal theft costs the economy around £220 million a year. This crime affects everyone – from the stealing of cables that delay your rail journey home to the shocking theft of war memorials.
This is sending a strong message to rogue dealers – you will be caught.
The stats are as follows:
In April–June 2012 there were 20,151 metal theft offences recorded by the police in England and Wales. In July–September 2012 there were 15,526. In October–December 2012 there were 13,596. In January–March 2013 there were 12,067 (Home Office, Metal theft, England and Wales, financial year ending March 2013).