Common sense amendments must be delivered to safeguard vital infrastructure

For immediate release – Monday 16 April 2012

Tomorrow (Tuesday 17 April) the Government will have a final opportunity to remove a dangerous loophole that could see an exemption from the cashless system for itinerant scrap metal traders. This comes as MPs consider Lords Amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.

The Bill now includes welcome and essential changes to the law on metal theft. These include the banning of cash transactions and the lifting of the cap on fines and sentences for those caught stealing or accepting stolen metal. However, despite the efforts of Lord Faulkner in the House of Lords to remove exemptions allowing itinerant traders to continue to pay cash for scrap, they remain part of the Bill in its current form.

Energy Networks Association (ENA) understands that the Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan MP will move an amendment to close the dangerous loophole this creates in what has been hailed by industry as a bold and significant step to tackle the crime of metal theft.

ENA Chief Executive David Smith said:

“Energy networks are suffering 20 metal theft attacks per day and it is essential these common sense amendments are passed. We support any attempt to remove this unnecessary exemption for itinerant scrap metal traders. Support for changes to the law, including removing this itinerants’ exemption, has been seen from across all parties.”

Shadow Policing Minister David Hanson said:

“The Government should listen to what the industry is saying and accept Labour’s amendment, ensuring that itinerant collectors are subject to the cash ban.

“The Government has been slow to react and tackle metal theft head-on. Lives are being put at risk, war memorials and churches are being damaged, commuters delayed, businesses hit, and residents plunged into darkness by this escalating problem.

“We need urgent action to get a grip on the illegal metal trade but current proposals have loopholes that will undermine the fight against metal thieves and rogue dealers.”

Graham Jones MP for Hyndburn:

“I sincerely hope that the Government will listen to the victims of scrap metal theft as well as a united metal industry and delete this unnecessary exemption from the Bill. Mobile dealers are a significant part of the problem, and this loophole just means that end-to-end traceability is lost as stolen metal infects the system. Many mobile collectors already operate without any registration. It would be shameful to come this far on this issue only to leave a gaping hole in the middle of the legislation.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

ENA has been part of a cross-industry group working with BT, Network Rail, The War Memorials Trust, English Heritage, The Church of England and members of the metal recycling industry such as SITA UK and Alchemy Metals.

ENA is also supporting the All Party Group on Combating Metal Theft co-chaired by Chris Kelly MP (Cons) and Graham Jones MP (Lab).

A full list of industry recommendations for changes to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 can be found here.

ENA represents the ‘wires and pipes’ transmission and distribution network operators for gas and electricity in the UK and Ireland.

For further information please contact:

Tim Field MCIPR,
Press and Public Affairs Executive
Energy Networks Association
E: [email protected]
T: +44 (0)207 706 5157
M: +44 (0)7725 372 758
W: www.energynetworks.org
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