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Law toughened on metal thefts
POLITICIANS across York and Selby have backed a new bill to toughen the law on the increasing number of metal thefts.
A Metal Theft Prevention Bill will be introduced in the House of Commons today, calling for a tougher licensing scheme and more powers for the police and courts to close scrapyards and shut down dealers who do not operate within the law.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has put forward a four-point plan which has called for councils to be given tough new powers to stop the illicit trade.
It wants a ban on cash payments so sellers can be traced, as well as the installation of CCTV with automatic number plate recognition in scrapyards.
Dealers should also be forced to keep a detailed log of people from whom they buy metal and renew their licences. In recent months homes, businesses, railways, schools and churches in York, Selby and North Yorkshire have been targeted by metal thieves, and the region’s MPs have welcomed the Bill.
Julian Sturdy, who represents York Outer, said: “It’s really important that we have legislative change put in place to tackle this problem, because it is becoming more and more of an issue around the region and the country as a whole.
“It’s having an impact not just on the local economy, with cable theft causing problems for commuters and transport networks, but we have also seen memorial plaques being stolen.
“This has to be tackled at source, because there are problems with where stolen metal is going to and the fact it cannot be properly traced.
“There must be a system in place which allows the authorities to trace this metal and proper licensing arrangements. There is also the potential to consider a cashless system for scrap-metal dealers, which may not be something we start off with but which can be looked at in the future.”
Selby and Ainsty MP Nigel Adams said tougher laws on metal theft and illegal dealings were “long overdue”.
He said: “One of my constituents recently told me thefts from his premises over the years have cost him tens of thousands of pounds.
“With the high prices involved, it’s no surprise villains are exploiting a system in which no questions are asked.
“It’s an unscrupulous activity and I would support new legislation which could also look at curbing cash transactions at scrapyards, as well as possibly including the cash trade in second-hand vehicles which have been rigged.”
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones, who is introducing the Private Members Bill, said: “Metal theft in this country is a crime which is out of control and it’s about time the Government took swift, firm action.”
Conference to discuss church raids
A CONFERENCE will be held in North Yorkshire later this month to examine ways of tackling the sharp rise in the theft of lead from church roofs.
English Heritage, North Yorkshire Police and Ecclesiastical Insurance will join church leaders to discuss the latest anti-theft deterrents, such as roof alarms and a grease which cannot be washed off for six weeks.
Sergeant Chas Petty, of North Yorkshire Police, who will speak at the event, said he had been amazed by the risks thieves were prepared to take to steal the lead, with some climbing as high as 70ft on to roofs.
The conference will be held at Holy Trinity Church, Kirkby Road, Ripon, on Wednesday, November 30, from 6pm. For more details, email alice.ullathorne@riponleedsdiocese
Thefts must stop
THE recent spate of metal thefts has become so serious that a Metal Theft Prevention Bill will be debated today in the Commons.
Suggested measures include a cashless payment system to identify the seller and receiver of metal and tougher penalties against scrap yards and dealers who operate outside the law.
This is a recession crime and with copper doubling in value since 2009, it is easy to see why criminals risk their lives by stealing high-tension cables when they can make a quick profit with little chance of being caught.
But their criminal actions disrupt the public, from rail passengers waiting for damage to be repaired, to motorists coping without street lights because cable has been stolen.
So we welcome any move to stop this often dangerous trade. The rewards may appear easy, but we need to send out a clear message that these thefts must stop.
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