Metal Theft Prevention Bill announced

Friday, November 11, 2011 at 2:30PM

A Metal Theft Prevention Bill will be introduced in the House of Commons on Tuesday 15 November 2011 marking a significant step forward in the efforts to stamp out this dangerous, damaging and increasing scourge on our society.  

At a launch event on Monday 14 November 2011 Graham Jones MP for Hyndburn, who is introducing the Private Members Bill, will say:  

“This bill will finally close the holes in the regulatory system around metal theft which make it far too easy for people to make money from stolen metal. It is time to get tough on this endemic crime. Metal theft in this country is a crime which is out of control and it’s about time the government took swift firm action.”  

The proposals have received widespread support from industry too. Energy Networks Association Chef Executive David Smith said:  

“With 700 incidents of metal theft against the energy networks each month, addressing the damage caused by thieves has become a daily challenge for those maintaining our critical national infrastructure. This hugely dangerous crime has already caused 6 fatalities and over 50 serious injuries in the last 12 months. It is only a matter of time before an innocent person is hurt or worse.  

“The current legislation is unfit for purpose. This Bill has huge potential to be a vehicle for the change in the law we need to see. There must be urgent action if we are to avoid more lives being lost. Only by stopping the means of benefitting from the crime can we stop the mindless acts of criminals.”  

The Bill calls for a robust licensing scheme coupled with greater police and Magistrate powers to close and keep closed yards that do not operate within the law, and the move to a cashless system with the requirement of proof of ID and address.  

The last person to die was a 16 year old boy in a substation in Leeds. If he hadn't thought he was able to sell the stolen metal on to a scrap dealer he wouldn't have gone into the substation and he would still be alive today.  

September saw the first attack on National Grid’s infrastructure where thieves stole the earth wire from the top of a 130ft pylon carrying 275kV. This could have jeopardised power to 100,000 homes if it had made contact with the live wires as it fell to the ground. Had this been a 400kV pylon the number of homes affected could have been 500,000.  


Notes to editors  

See also: ENA calls on Government to support Metal Theft Prevention Bill


An independent report by Deloitte has shown metal theft has cost the energy networks £60m

ACPO estimates metal theft nationally has cost £1bn with 7,000-10,000 incidents each year

HM Revenue and Customs have estimated the lost revenue from the industry is £5.6bn  

The summary of the Private Members Bill is:  

Title: Support the Metal Theft Prevention Private Member’s Bill  

“To stop metal theft means stopping the means for selling it on. We need urgent reform to the outdated Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964. This crime is costing lives and livelihoods, it is only a matter of time before an innocent life is lost as the result of the mindless actions of criminals. The significant impact of metal theft is damaging national infrastructure such as energy, telecommunications and transport networks. It is destroying our heritage and communities through attacks on churches, public art and even war memorials. There is a Bill before Parliament to amend the law introduced by Graham Jones MP. The Government must support this Bill. It will provide for a robust licensing regime with requirements on dealers to establish the origin of materials, greater police and Magistrate powers to close and prevent the re-opening of scrap metal dealers who do not conform to licence conditions and a cashless system for payments with requirement for proof of identity of seller and receiver.”  

Energy Networks Association has been working as part of a cross-industry group including BT and Network Rail, which aims to raise the issue of metal theft and its impact as well as bring about a change in the law.  

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, Press and Public Affairs Executive
Energy Networks Association
E: [email protected]
T: +44 (0)207 706 5157
M: +44 (0)7725 372 758