The Government has said it does no wish to provide additional funding to combat metal theft, despite a recommendation to do so from the Transport Select Committee.
A British Transport Police (BTP) task force has been given £5 million to lead on preventing the theft of metal, but the Transport Select Committee argued that more cash should be made available.
In its response to a special report Cable theft on the railway published by the Transport Select Committee, the Department for Transport said: “The Government does not consider at this stage that further funding is likely to be required to extend the scope or duration of the metal theft task force, but will keep the issue under review.”
Transport Select Committee chair Louise Ellman MP disagreed. She said: “I am disappointed that the Government will not provide further resources for the police to tackle metal theft despite BTP’s leading work in this area.
“Cable theft cost Network Rail £16 million last year and disrupted over 35,000 journeys.
“The Government’s announcement must be translated into action if this unacceptable situation is to be addressed with the urgency that is required.”
The Department for Transport has identified six key strategic objectives for the metal theft task force. The main strategy being to reduce the theft of metal in general, but also to increase the level of offenders brought to justice for metal theft and non-compliance with legislation.
It argues that this approach will disrupt organised metal theft. The Department for Transport will also be implementing a structured pattern of visits to scrap metal dealers by BTP to ensure scrap dealers are operating legally and improve compliance with the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964. It will also look at other relevant legislation regarding licensing and registration. Finally, there will be development of an enhanced intelligence picture of metal theft activity across the country.