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New Bill to Tackle Cable Theft

Copper CablesMPs are due to debate a proposed new law this week that could crack down on dangerous and costly cable thefts in the UK. Across just the North East, thieves have stolen steel, copper and bronze power cables from homes, memorials, the Metro transport system and railway lines in over 4,000 reported incidents this year. Every month there are about 700 metal thefts that cause deaths and serious injuries, with the culprits trying to make money fast.

The owner and manager of Tyneside Metro, Nexus, has estimated that the cable theft incidents on the transport system have reach at least £300,000 in costs. Aside from that, train delays have more than doubled due to the incidents. A spokesman for the company said that the major impact that cable theft has is the disruption to Metro passengers, with services often having to be suspended while engineers repair the damage. They have created a task group to review the issue and their, staff are remaining extra cautious.

According to politicians, the scrap trade has to be strengthened with a new tough legislation replacing out-of-date law. A Metal Theft Prevention Bill is being introduced in the House of Commons today, marking a huge step forward in cracking down the affliction on society.

Additionally, Labour MP Graham Jones is launching the Private Members’ Bill, which will close holes in the regulatory system for metal thefts – crimes he describes as out of control. The bill is aimed at reforming the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964, providing a licencing regime for traders to confirm where material originates. Also included are tougher penalties and a cashless payment system that identifies who sells and receives the metal. The government is being urged by businesses and industry organisations to back the new bill, as it will have little chance of becoming a law without the support.

The Northern Gas Network has supported the bill, with three of its properties in the North East being targeted recently. Copper wires were stolen from the company, causing potential gas leaks. John O’Grady, a spokesman for the group, said that they welcome the introduction of the bill very much, as it will crack down on metal thefts. It will also keep people from earning money from a crime that poses a real danger to the public, he added.

The government has acknowledged that there is a serious problem with cable thefts, but ministers have to convince them that legislation needs to be tightened. Last week, Transport Minister Norman Baker said that, while resorting to the statute book as a first option isn’t their intent, that is one option they will very seriously consider if they are persuaded that it’s how metal theft should be dealt with.

 

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