Industry and Scottish Parliament make strong commitment to public on metal theft

For immediate release – Tuesday 5 November 2013

At a Scottish Parliamentary Metal Theft Summit, organised by Energy Networks Association (ENA) and hosted by Stuart McMillan MSP, industry and parliamentarians were united in calls for a strong approach to deliver for the Scottish public and protect their safety against the dangerous attacks on communities from metal thieves.

The Scottish Government’s forthcoming licensing bill will seek to introduce tougher legislation around the licensing of scrap metal dealers.

Clear requirements for legislation in Scotland were agreed by the summit, which included representatives from victims, law enforcement, the metal recycling industry, insurance and law enforcement. These were that it must enshrine better record keeping for scrap dealers, a formal and compulsory licensing scheme, a full ban on cash transactions without exemptions and the legal back up and law enforcement.

Stuart McMillan MSP opened the summit with the words of one of his constituents who felt "under siege" and they were not getting anywhere to protect their community. The commitment to them, Stuart said was, "a determination to not let them down and let criminals get the better of us."

Setting out the Scottish Government commitment to tackle metal theft, Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill MSP said:

"I am grateful for this opportunity to discuss how we can reduce this crime. We are seeking to address what is not just a nuisance issues but goes much further beyond that and we must tackle it for our communities.

"We welcome the efforts of the police and industry but recognise the need for the right legislative framework to support this. That is why we are proposing tougher laws, as part of our Licensing Bill, to make Scotland a far more hostile place for these criminals.

“I'm happy to give you a commitment today that we will put our shoulder to the wheel and give the full support of the Scottish Government to bring about this legislation as soon as possible."

Frank Mitchell, Chief Executive of ScottishPower Energy Networks highlighted the serious health and safety risk to the public:

"What keeps me awake at night is the reckless behaviour that puts our workforce and the public at risk from the condition thieves leave networks assets in.

"This isn't a victimless crime and it's a very serious public safety issue so there should be no exemptions, tough licences and rigorous verifying of ID to tackle this wanton disregard for lives."

Rodney Grubb, Head of Operations (North) for SSE Power Distribution, echoed ScottishPower’s concerns about the safety risks to the public and SSEPD staff and explained that trends are changing and criminals are more organised:

"We have made significant efforts to proactively stop metal theft through better security and CCTV. We have protected our depots but the challenge is changing and people are being put at risk.

"Those who are attacking infrastructure and stealing metal are not amateurs. The criminals know what they are doing and are committing a serious crime."

The summit agreed a strong support for a coordinated national campaign in Scotland to raise awareness of the risks of metal theft with the public and for them to be able to help police stop the crime.

ENDS

Notes to editors

ENA is the voice of the networks representing 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,
Head of Press and Public Affairs
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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