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Funding threat hangs over UK metal theft task force

United Kingdom – The UK government has been warned against cutting the funding for the National Metal Theft Taskforce, which is due to expire on March 31. Several peers have pleaded for the support to be maintained, telling Home Office minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach in the House of Lords that the task force is of ‘inestimable value’ to both the metals industry and the country’s infrastructure.

Since the specialised task force was set up in 2011, it is claimed to have reduced metal theft incidents by 44%. Therefore, it would be ‘extraordinarily short-sighted’ to cease funding, asserted Lord Faulkner of Worcester. ‘Shouldn’t we be building on that success and not jeopardising it?’ he went on to ask.

Lord Faulkner observed that the task force relies on only £5 million (US$ 8.3 million) of Treasury funding while having saved an estimated £339 million (US$ 563 million) in terms of damage to national infrastructure – most notably to churches and to the railway network. This is ‘an incredibly good rate of return’, he stressed.

‘Crucial momentum’ has been sustained over the last year, agreed Lord Cormack, vice president of the National Church Trust. He said he was ‘apprehensive’ at the prospect of the task force’s funding being lost.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach acknowledged that the task force has proved to be a great success. All advice on the matter ‘will be considered’, he added. ‘With a new licensing regime in place since October, we will take a view nearer the time as to how to take forward our efforts to tackle metal theft in the future.’

Source: BBC

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