A Government minister has said that it is investigating whether the scrap trade should abandon cash to help prevent metal theft.
At a Parliamentary summit today on the problem of metal theft, Minister for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour Reduction Baroness Browning said: “I have been astonished by the costs incurred and damage metal theft is causing to businesses, services and local communities across England and Wales.
“The Government takes this issue extremely seriously which is why we have commissioned the multi-agency ACPO Metal Theft working group to deliver a plan to tackle the problem.
“Good progress is being made on a range of actions from this plan including looking at how we can develop metal alternatives and more co-ordinated law enforcement approaches, as well as exploring possible options for a cashless system for scrap metal dealers.
“Nevertheless, we are keen to do more and discussions are underway with a number of Government departments to identify further options.”
The summit has been organised by the Energy Networks Association and is supported by BT and Network Rail, which have all been suffering from stolen metal.
Energy Networks Association chief executive David Smith said: “Metal theft has become an increasing problem for our country’s infrastructure and the impact across energy networks, the rail system and telecoms is hindering UK Plc. But this isn’t just about society as a whole and the economy. This affects communities through loss of supply and individuals are dicing with death.
“The current legislation is from a time of Steptoe & Son. Legislation needs updating with a robust and enforceable registration process, greater police powers to close down illegal scrap metal dealers and a move to a cashless system.”