At last we can truly say the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013. The legislation we have campaigned to achieve for so long received Royal Assent on 28 February. Following this ENA helped sponsor a thank you party this week in the House of Commons for all those Parliamentarians and others who helped deliver the new life saving scrap metal laws. It was hosted by Richard Ottaway who steered the Bill through the Commons.
Addressing a gathering which included a number of Parliamentarians and both Jeremy Browne and Lord Taylor of Holbeach, the Home Office Ministers who helped guide the Act through the Commons and the Lords Richard thanked ENA for its strong support and for its efforts to address the metal theft issue. He highlighted the sometimes difficult Parliamentary journey and our support to achieving success. Steve Johnson, Chairman of ENA responding to Richard said:
“The collective and tireless efforts of many have brought about this fantastic result and we are grateful to the efforts of Richard and all the MPs, Peers and civil servants who have worked with us. For the energy networks this has always been about the risk to our engineers, to innocent passersby and the impact on the families affected by the death of the thieves who’ve attempted to steal our assets. This law will save lives.”
The passing of these new laws is a fantastic achievement and the effort put in to achieve it should be celebrated by all who have campaigned. For too long thieves have been able to damage critical infrastructure and cherished heritage with their dangerous and destructive attacks on our society. The laws will make it pointless for thieves to put themselves and others at risk for metal worth a fraction of the cost of the millions of pounds of damage they cause every year. However the focus now must be on ensuring no one can get around the progress that has been achieved to modernise the outdated laws. Enforcement is key to continued success and funding for the Metal Theft Taskforce must continue until the licenses for scrap metal dealers to operate are established to progress this valuable work.
At the height of this crime, metal theft against energy infrastructure alone was at an average of 21 incidents per day with more than half a dozen people killed and hundreds being injured every year. Energy networks companies are spending more than £12million on additional security measures to combat thieves and damage is costing in excess of £60million a year.
ENA has been part of a cross-industry, cross-sector group campaigning for a change in the law. This group has included BT, Network Rail, Church of England, War Memorials Trust and many more. ENA also provides secretariat support for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Combating Metal Theft.