Scottish Parliamentary Metal Theft Summit informs new legislation

For immediate release – Wednesday 30 October 2013

A metal theft summit is taking place tomorrow (Thursday 31 October) in the Scottish Parliament to bring together the industries, organisations and businesses affected by the crime and to hear from Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill MSP about proposed changes to Scottish legislation.

Metal theft attacks against networks infrastructure reached an average 21 per day in recent years and continues to cause damage and destruction to the networks across the UK. Tough new laws were brought in to tackle the crime in England and Wales but there needs to be equally strong legislation here in Scotland too.

Stuart McMillan MSP, who is hosting the summit and has campaigned for a change in the laws governing scrap metal in Scotland for many years will open the roundtable saying:

“I’m delighted that a large number of industries and organisations are able to attend the roundtable discussion I am hosting at the Scottish Parliament to address the problem of metal theft in Scotland.

“As we are fully aware, the problem of metal theft is causing a tremendous amount of damage, at a large cost, to our industries, heritage and memorials.

“Therefore, it’s vital we continue to introduce tougher licensing regimes and find further ways to punish those who seek to profit from metal theft.

“For more information on the issue I would urge people to visit”

Frank Mitchell, Chief Executive of Scottish Power Energy Networks will tell attendees:

“It is a misconception that stealing metal from a substation or a power line is a victimless crime. This year alone we have seen one attempted theft result in a fatality, a number of properties affected by voltage fluctuations causing damage in their homes and tens of thousands of other properties have suffered interruptions to their power supplies. We are pleased that the Scottish Government has the issue of metal theft high on their agenda, and we look forward to meeting with Kenny MacAskill at the metal theft summit to talk about the issues and discuss how new legislation could help to reduce incidents.”

Rodney Grubb, Head of Operations North for Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution will say:

“Metal theft from electricity networks is not just illegal, but is extremely dangerous and irresponsible, placing the lives of the general public, the culprit and our staff at risk, not to mention the disruption it causes customers who could find themselves without power as a result.  We therefore strongly support and welcome the Scottish Government’s intention to introduce new legislation aimed at preventing this dangerous crime and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government to try and help bring metal theft in Scotland to an end."


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.

Legislation in England and Wales introduced:

  • Robust licensing scheme funded by the industry itself, similar to that of the alcohol trading scheme
  • Significant fines and custodial sentences for those breaching license conditions
  • Greater powers for Police and Local Authorities to enforce new laws
  • Requirement to record proof of ID from those buying and selling metal
  • A ban on cash transactions for all scrap metal dealers

Case studies of incidents affecting energy infrastructure:

Metal theft in figures - ScottishPower statistics

  • 740 substation attacks since January 2011.
  • Over 70,000 homes exposed to increased risks of faults or potential damage. (Scotland).
  • Over 6,000 man-hours spent on repairs and reinforcements (Scotland).
  • 50,000 homes in Glasgow lost power supplies for 30 minutes in November 2011 after an attempted theft.
  • 50 homes in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, experienced damaged appliances after a theft from a substation in May 2013.
  • More than 20 substations were targeted in the Saltcoats area in one weekend alone in June 2013.
  • A spate of incidents in Dumfries and Galloway in January 2013 saw live overhead power lines being cut down by hacksaws.
  • A fatality of a 43 year old man occurred in July 2013 following an attempted theft from a pole mounted substation in Lanarkshire.

SSEPD Metal Theft Case Study, Dundee, 11October 2013

On Friday, 11 October the SSEPD Emergency Service Centre were made aware of a no supply from an office building on the western edge of Dundee. The customer confirmed that the supply had failed the day before and his electrician had now confirmed that there was no incoming supply.

Attendance was arranged for 12:30 when the customer could allow access to the building.

The SSEPD Engineer attending confirmed no incoming supply and on checking at the supply secondary substation found that the transformer had been interfered with and the lid removed.

Police attended site and took detail.

HV Authorised staff attended, the transformer HV switch had been opened, the weatherproof cladding surrounding the unit substation had the roof removed, the transformer lid was unbolted and the copper core had been stolen.

Major works were required to make the site safe then replace the complete unit substation including switchgear, transformer and low Voltage cabinet in order to restore the integrity of the High Voltage network and re-connect the customer at this site.

Environmental contractors attended to clean up the oil from site.

An estimated cost for the incident and follow up works is £20k.

However this does not take into account the effects of our resources being diverted from their core duties as well as the very real danger of interfering with live HV equipment.

On the evening of the 11th another attempt at metal theft took place, also in Dundee, the persons involved however appear to have been disturbed and left after de-energising the supply transformer.

Video - SSEPD partners Scottish Business Resilience Centre to stamp out metal theft in Scotland

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

Follow us on Twitter: @EnergyNetworks
Connect with us on LinkedIn