United Kingdom – The UK is to establish a national task force to tackle the problem of metal theft following an injection of £5 million (US$ 8 million) from the UK government. To be led by the British Transport Police (BTP), the multi-agency unit will target ‘metal thieves and scrap metal dealers who trade in stolen goods and fuel the demand’, according to a statement from the UK government’s Home Office.
The task force will develop intelligence, co-ordinate activity, and target and disrupt criminal networks, including what it calls ‘rogue elements of the scrap metal industry’. The UK’s Crime Prevention Minister Lord Henley comments: ‘The government recognises that metal theft is a serious and growing national and international problem that causes significant damage to communities, businesses, and the UK’s infrastructure telecommunications, rail and power networks.’
It has also been announced that the BTP will be blitzing Northumberland over the next few weeks with additional officers and patrols in a push to target cable crime in the northern England county. The operation will involve large numbers of additional officers from BTPs dedicated cable squad who will provide high-visibility patrols day and night in key hot spots on the railway network. Detective Inspector Mick Jackson of the BTP, who heads up the teams, says: ‘Unfortunately, the price of copper on world markets continues to drive the demand for cable, which has resulted in an increase in the number of incidents of cable theft on the railway.
It’s costing the industry, and the wider economy, millions of pounds – and that figure is rising.’ And he adds: ‘More and more culprits and scrap metal dealers are being caught, and we’re pushing hard to make sure they face the toughest possible sentences in relation to this crime.’ The independent charity Crimestoppers, in partnership with Network Rail, is offering a reward of up to £1000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of cable thieves.