A new body to tackle metal thieves and toughen up scrap metal yard regulations has been announced.
The taskforce was announced in chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, directed at boosting the UK’s infrastructure programmes.
The Home Office said the cross-departmental taskforce will develop intelligence, co-ordinate activity and target and disrupt criminal networks.
Crime prevention minister Lord Henley, left, said: “The government has today announced it is establishing a dedicated £5m national taskforce to target both metal thieves and scrap metal dealers who trade in stolen goods, which will be led by the British Transport Police and comprise officers across and England and Wales.
“The government recognises that metal theft is a serious and growing national problem that causes significant damage to communities, businesses, and the UK’s infrastructure networks.”
A Home Office spokesperson said the department was also examining what changes to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 were needed, along with other legislative measures, to stop a worrying increase in metal thefts across the country.
He added: “It is clear that the only sustainable long-term approach to metal theft is to legislate. The legislation dating back to the 1960s is not sufficient to deal with the increasingly organised crime.”
Transport minister Norman Baker says there is a “prima facie” case for toughening up regulations to prevent theft of copper cabling and other metals.