Police forces and partner agencies across the UK have targeted hundreds of scrap yards and made numerous arrests as part of a co-ordinated period of action tackling metal theft.
Metal theft is widely acknowledged as one of the fastest growing crime types in the UK.
Wherever you live, it is likely that metal theft in some shape or form has had an impact on your life – such are the effects this crime is having on all our communities.
For British Transport Police, metal theft – particularly the theft of lineside cabling – is second only to terrorism in its list of priorities. Meanwhile other police forces and industries are taking a similarly serious view as thieves target power cables, telecoms cables, roofing lead, road signs and even war memorial plaques.
Association of Chief Police Officers lead for metal theft, BTP Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther, said: “Every single metal theft is an attack, in some form, on our communities.
“Whether thieves target lead from a church roof, earthing cable from a power sub-station or broadband cables, it is local residents and businesses who suffer most as it is their services, utilities and community buildings which are destroyed or disrupted.
“This has to stop. The sort of co-ordinated action we have seen this week, in tandem with longer term solutions, is certainly having an impact.
“But this cannot be done in isolation and, thankfully, we are receiving support from Government in the form of legislative change.”
The Government is clear that changing the law is the only sustainable, long term solution to tackling metal theft. So, from the autumn, new laws will make it illegal for metal recyclers, who are often the first port of call for thieves looking to make a quick buck, to deal in cash.
This will mean that thieves looking to sell on stolen metal will have to provide bank account details or be paid by cheque – providing police with a clear audit trail back to those who took the metal initially.
Additionally, fines for all offences under the existing Scrap Metal Dealers Act will be significantly increased and new powers of entry for the police will be introduced.
Lord Henley, Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour Reduction, said:
“The Government is taking urgent action to tackle metal and cable theft head on. As a first step we intend to ban cash payments by scrap metal dealers, and significantly increase the fines for all offences under the existing Scrap Metal Dealers Act.
“Days of action like these are sending a clear message that metal theft will not be tolerated.”
Notes to Editors
Forces across the country joined with partner agencies to tackle metal theft during the period of action and, though all results are yet to be collated, to date, we can confirm:
- 475 officers were involved in the period of action
- 316 scrap metal recyclers were visited
- 220 scrap metal recyclers were searched
- 58 people were arrested for conspiracy to steal, theft, burglary, assault and dangerous driving
- 27 vehicles were seized
- Recovered items included; ScottishPower cabling, traffic management cabling, BT cable, Network Rail cable, copper piping, beer kegs, shopping trolleys, milk trolleys
- Agencies involved in the period of action included; ScottishPower, Western Power, BT, Network Rail, Environment Agency, Smartwater, National Grid, Kegwatch, Department for Work and Pensions
On a wider scale, police and partner agencies in the UK are working with colleagues across Europe to tackle metal theft at home and on the continent.
Next week colleagues from across Europe will come together for a two-conference in London to discuss the issue and develop strategies to deal with the problem.
Anyone who wants further information please contact Glyn Hellam at BTP: 0161 200 8362, 07 920 509 112 firstname.lastname@example.org
The ACPO Press Office can be contacted via 020 7084 8946/47/48 (office hours) or via 07803 903686 (out of office hours).
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is an independent, professionally led strategic body. In the public interest and, in equal and active partnership with Government and partner agencies, ACPO leads and co-ordinates the direction and development of the police service in the United Kingdom. In times of national need ACPO, on behalf of all chief officers, co-ordinates the strategic policing response.
ACPO’s 295 members consist of 213 chief police officers from the home forces of assistant chief constable rank (commanders in the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police) and above, plus 55 senior police staff members from the 44 forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Non home forces such as British Transport Police have 24 chief police officer members and there are three members from the Service Police.