Anger as metal theft law fails

A BID for new legislation to crack down on the scourge of costly and dangerous metal thefts throughout Hucknall, Bulwell and the rest of the country has been blocked by the government.

A Private Members’ Bill was proposed in Parliament by Labour MP Graham Jones, which called for bans on scrapyard dealers making cash payments for metal.

The proposal would have covered dealers in the Dispatch district and would have also forced them to ask for proof of identification from anyone selling metal.

The aim was to tighten the net around those who steal valuable metal and sell it for its scrap value. The Dispatch district has been a hotbed for the crime with lead stolen from churches, roadside grates regularly taken and copper piping removed from disused buildings.

A truck packed with metal was even stolen in Hucknall and ploughed into cars on a quiet street when the driver lost control.

But the Bill was rejected in Parliament — a move that immediately sparked local disappointment.

Nicola Currie, the leader of Nottinghamshire’s Country Land and Business Association, said: “We are very disappointed this Bill has been stopped in its tracks, and look forward to the government setting out its own proposals to tackle the scourge of metal theft.

“We supported Mr Jones’s Bill because the dramatic increase in metal theft is impacting significantly on communities and businesses.

“We will continue to run our ‘Scrap the Cash’ Campaign in order to fight for legislative action on this issue.”

Metal thefts have steadily risen across Nottinghamshire in recent years where thieves have stolen more than 700 cast-iron grates last year, costing the county council around £275,000 in replacements.

The majority of the thefts take place after dark or at weekends, but there have been instances where grates have been stolen during the day, in full view of passers-by.

But because the thieves often use pick-up trucks with yellow flashing lights, many people assume they are legitimate workmen carrying out highway repairs.

The crime leaves gaping holes, which can be dangerous to cyclists, motorists and pedestrians.

In December, the government announced that a new national metal theft task force was being rolled out across the UK by British Transport Police to combat the ongoing problem.

The force will develop intelligence, co-ordinate activity and target and disrupt criminal networks – both the thieves and also the criminal market, including rogue elements of the scrap metal industry.

Coun Richard Jackson, county council cabinet member for Transport and Highways, said: “Metal theft is a huge problem at the moment, both locally and nationally, so anything that helps clamp down on it has to be a good thing.”

Anyone who witnesses a metal theft or has information on such a crime should phone Nottinghamshire Police on 101.

Alternatively, ccontact the free and confidential Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555 111.