Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson is today calling on the Government to go further to tackle metal theft in the North West which is damaging the economy and can be extremely dangerous.
The Labour MP said the government's attempts to tackle the rising crime by moving to stop cash payments to purchase scrap metal and increase fines for those found guilty don't go far enough.
Speaking in a Parliamentary debate on the issue this afternoon, Bill will be calling for the police to be given the power of entry and the ability to shut down scrap metal yards.
Metal theft is becoming an epidemic, and urgent action is needed from the Home Office to stop this getting out of control. The government should change the law to make it easier stop this organised crime and dangerous trade.
Bill Esterson is backing Labour’s four point plan to tackle Metal theft – which is also supported by British Transport Police, Association of Chief Police Officers & by the Neighbourhood Watch.
1) Licensing scrap metal dealers, rather than current registration with Local Authority.
2) Move to ban cash transactions especially for large scale/high value scrap metal transactions.
3) Tougher police powers to close rogue traders down.
4) Anyone selling scrap to provide proof of identity, recorded at point of sale.
Bill said: "We have seen a spate of metal thefts in East Sefton over recent months as residents have reported lead being stolen from roofs. Th cost of this isn't just in replacing the stolen lead, but it is fixing the long term damage caused by the thefts.
"This is an issue which the police locally have been working to tackle, but it is an issue which this Government needs to go further if it is to effectively tackle the growing crime of metal theft.
"Households face repeated power cuts, commuters face increasing delays, churches and public buildings are being damaged, all as a result of escalating metal theft. The theft of electric wires is even putting lives at risk. Between April 2010 and March 2011 cable theft on the railways increased by over 70 per cent.
"Banning cash transactions in itself will not solve the problem, as whilst legitimate scrap yards will go cashless, some yards may continue to take cash and continue a black market.
“Labour is calling for tougher powers for the police to close these rogue traders down. Currently the police cannot enter a yard and close it down – so the Government’s plan won’t achieve what it is setting out to do.
“People that are selling scrap metal should also have to provide proof of identity at point of sale and the metal dealers should be properly licensed.
“The test of whether this Government is serious about tackling metal theft is whether it backs Labour’s more robust package of measures.”