Earlier this year two men were convicted of conspiring to steal and sentenced to 20 months in prison for a spate of thefts from the North Kent area.

Causing damage of £125,000 the two men broke into electrical substations owned by National Grid and UK Power Networks in an attempt to steal copper worth less than 0.1% of its replacement costs.

The first ever parliamentary summit on metal theft will be held today as part of cross-industry approach to tackling this increasingly damaging crime.

During the summit, held today (June 22) by the Energy Networks Association (ENA), there was a call for a change to legislation to tackle the crime.

Hosting the Summit on behalf of ENA MP for West Bromwich East, Tom Watson, said: “The current legislation is from a time of Steptoe & Son.

“Legislation needs updating with a robust and enforceable registration process, greater police powers to close down illegal scrap metal dealers and a move to a cashless system.

“ENA, alongside Network Rail and BT, hope that through this summit we can convey the major impact this is having across different industries, the huge cost it causes for such small gains and at enormous risk to the criminals.”

Minister for crime prevention and anti-social behaviour reduction, Baroness

Browning, said: “I have been astonished by the costs incurred and damage that metal theft is causing to businesses, services and local communities across England and Wales.

“The government takes this issue extremely seriously which is why we commissioned the multi-agency ACPO Metal Theft working group to deliver a plan to tackle the problem.

“Good progress is being made on a range of actions from this plan including looking at how we can develop metal alternatives and more coordinated law enforcement approaches.”

Luke Walsh

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