Tough new sanctions for war memorial metal theft – Jo

Local MP Jo Swinson welcomed the announcement of tough new penalties brought in to crack down on those who steal or sell stolen metal; especially from war memorials.

Liberal Democrat Crime Prevention Minister, Jeremy Browne warned that as of next month new powers will take effect to stop cash paid for metal and give the police stronger powers to target rogue traders.

Commenting Jo said:

"Last Sunday, as I attended Remembrance Day events I was once again reminded of all the selfless sacrifices made by members of our armed forces, from both World Wars and conflicts right up to the present day.

"On Sunday in Baldernock the war memorial was a dignified focal point for the tributes with its new stone plaques, but it made me so angry that this had been necessary because metal thieves had stolen the previous metal plaques. It beggars belief that anyone could commit such a crime, disrespecting our fallen war heroes.

"I am proud that the Coalition Government is doing the right thing in backing measures to crack down on this disgraceful crime by tackling scrap metal theft."

Commenting further, Liberal Democrat Crime Prevention Minister, Jeremy Browne said:

"These thieves show an utter disregard for the memory of the courageous men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

"The Coalition Government is determined to stamp out this illegal trade, which in recent years has cast a shadow over Remembrance Sunday for bereaved families.

"That is why we are reforming the scrap metal industry to support legitimate dealers and tighten the net around those who flout the rules."

Further information

  1. According to the Home Office, there are roughly 1,000 metal thefts a week which cost the UK economy at least £220m-260m per year – although the estimated total costs could be up to £800m.
  1. The Coalition Government has already taken a number of measures to tackle metal theft, including supporting the metal theft taskforce with £5m and recent legal changes to tackle metal theft which come into effect on 3 December as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, including:
  • banning scrap metal dealers from trading in cash, which will end the 'no questions asked' cash payments which help metal thieves and rogue dealers;
  • increased financial penalties under the existing regulation of the scrap metal sector
  • new police powers of entry to tackle illegal trading in metal yards.

2. The Coalition Government is backing the Scrap Metal Dealer's Bill, a Private Members' Bill tabled by Richard Ottaway MP which is expected to receive parliamentary approval in the New Year. Key features of the Bill include:

  • requiring all individuals and businesses to complete an enhanced application process to obtain a scrap metal dealer licence. Local authorities will have the power to turn down unsuitable applicants;
  • giving local authorities the power to revoke a licence;
  • requiring all sellers of metal to provide personal identification at the point of sale, which is then recorded by the scrap metal dealer;
  • extending the offence of buying metal with cash to itinerant metal collectors;
  • new powers for the police and local authorities to enter and inspect sites;
  • creating a central public register, hosted by the Environment Agency, of all individuals and businesses licensed as scrap metal dealers; and,
  • widening the definition of a scrap metal dealer to include motor salvage operators.

3. In Memoriam 2014 is a partnership between War Memorials Trust and the SmartWater Foundation. The project is seeking to offer greater protection to war memorials across the UK by forensically marking memorials with SmartWater, a state‐of‐the‐art forensic signature that can only be seen under UV light. Once applied SmartWater is virtually impossible to remove and can withstand burning, sand blasting and long term exposure to UV.

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