Efforts to reduce metal theft are showing early signs of success, according to figures released by the Home Office.
There was a steady decline in metal theft across England and Wales in each quarter of 2012/13 (see graph above) with a 40% fall during the financial year ending March 2013, according to the statistics.
There were over 61,000 metal theft offences recorded by police. Around half of these (47%) were related to disruptive metal thefts from infrastructure where lead roofs, electricity pipes and manhole covers were stolen (see chart below).
Metal thefts corresponded to 2% of all police recorded crime in England and Wales for this period.
Over this period the Government introduced three initiatives to curb metal crime, including:
- boosting enforcement activity by funding the National Metal Theft Taskforce
- banning the industry from trading in cash from in December 2012 through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act
- Drafting the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 to give greater powers to police and local authorities to clampdown on metal crime.
|Police force areas with highest metal thefts 2012/13:|
Crime prevention minister Norman Baker said: “Metal theft has a huge impact on communities and I’m encouraged to see an early reduction in this crime.
“The early signs are that our changes, including increasing financial penalties, banning cash payments and improving enforcement through the National Metal Theft Taskforce are starting to take hold.
“This crime affects everyone — from the stealing of cables that delay your rail journey home to the shocking theft of war memorials which costs hours of police time.”
Ian Hetherington, director general of the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), said: “The Home Office figures demonstrate that co-ordinated and effective enforcement through initiatives such as the National Metal Theft Taskforce can be effective at reducing metal related crime. Sadly from March next year funding for the Taskforce will be withdrawn and it will be disbanded.”
He added: “Without effective enforcement metal theft will increase and police forces will be unable to cope.”
- The news comes after the BMRA called for robust enforcement of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act. The full licensing regime comes into affect from 1 December obliging all dealers to have a licence to trade.