The theft of metal remains a significant problem in the UK affecting many industry sectors, not just the railway. The current cost to the UK economy is estimated at hundreds of millions of pounds a year and the crime is directly fuelled by the increase in the price of metals, particularly copper and lead.
Neil Henry, head of operations and performance at Network Rail, said: Rail passengers and essential freight deliveries are still suffering at the hands of metal thieves who target our network. While we have made significant progress in reducing the impact of these crimes, disruption is still at an unacceptably high level. We have maintained for some time that legal reform was sorely needed in order to support our own efforts to prevent thefts and welcome the new Scrap Metal Dealers Act. We will continue to work with British Transport Police to track down and seek prosecution of those who continue to flout the law and invest in methods to better protect the rail network.”
Gary Cooper, director of operations and engineering at ATOC, said: The Scrap Metal Dealers Act is excellent progress in the fight against cable thieves, whose actions cause delays and disruption for thousands of our customers.
This new law contains welcome measures that bolster the industrys crackdown on the trade in stolen metal. Train companies are committed to doing all they can with industry partners to reduce disruption and costs even further.
Maggie Simpson, executive director at RFG, added: Metal theft continues to be a problem for rail freight customers, and we are very pleased that these new powers will enable more to be done to reduce the disruption and cost to business from this crime.
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther of British Transport Police added: Today marks a very significant milestone in the fight against metal thieves. The Act demands a greater level of awareness and responsibility from traders, ensuring they verify who they are doing business with, but it also protects law abiding recyclers from unscrupulous traders.
It is vital that scrap metal traders are aware of the changes, including the new licensing regulations. Metal thieves cause misery for thousands of people, whether targeting the rail network, power cables or telecommunications and todays changes signal the introduction of a more robust licensing scheme to be monitored by local authorities.