Scrap metal petition started

A district councillor says she is supporting a petition to stop metal thefts following a crimewave which has sparked calls for changes to the law that governs scrap metal dealers.

Tory Jenny Antill, who represents Acton and Great Waldingfield, has signed a petition seeking to stop the rising amount of thefts of metal, including cable and lead from church roofs, by making it illegal for scrap metal dealers for pay for metal in cash.

Mrs Antill said she had been forwarded the petition to sign.

“Bearing in mind the fact that both Acton and Chilton churches have recently suffered the theft of lead from their roofs, and a number of local commuters have been seriously inconvenienced by cable theft from along the railway lines, it seems to me that anything that can be done to help stop this sort of crime must be a good thing,” she said.

“Two people forwarded an email to me suggesting that I might like to sign a petition seeking to amend the Scrap Metal Merchants Act 1964.

“I am normally rather careful about signing petitions. As several councillors found out a few years ago, doing so can restrict your ability to vote in the council chamber.

“However, I don’t think that there is any issue in this case and I have in fact already signed it.”

She said the aim of the petition was to make it illegal for scrap metal dealers to pay for metal in cash.

She added: “It is thought that this would go a long way to stopping the thefts since it would be very much easier to trace the seller.”

The Government has recently announced it was tackling metal theft by focusing on the regulation of the scrap metal industry and has appointed a £5million “metal theft taskforce”.

A private member’s bill earlier this month set out a number of changes to the law, supported by industries and organisations affected by the crime. It calls for reforms to the scrap metal dealers act.

The Association of Chief Police Officers estimates metal theft nationally has cost £1billion, with 10,000 incidents each year.

As well as power and rail cables and lead, thieves have been targeting catalytic converters because of the precious metals they contain.