James Brokenshire has told the House of Commons that the damage to war memorials and other historical monuments caused by thieves trying to steal metal was “sickening”. The Minister for Crime and Security’s comments came after the announcement that the Government is providing £5 million to help fund a new metal theft taskforce aimed at confronting thieves and rogue scrap dealers. Steps are also being examined to reform the law dealing with the sale of scrap metal. Metal theft is estimated to cost the economy as much as £777 million per annum.
The rail industry has suffered numerous problems with signal cabling being stolen causing delays and potential safety risks. Locally, the war memorial in Sidcup was vandalised with a metal plaque commemorating the war dead being removed from the side of the monument.
Speaking during Home Office Questions in the House of Commons, James Brokenshire said:
“Many sickening crimes have occurred where monuments and places that exist to celebrate our war dead or important historical incidents have been desecrated. I utterly condemn those responsible for these appalling actions. The Government recognises the seriousness attached to metal theft, which is why we are seeking to establish a new taskforce better to inform intelligence and ensure that those responsible for such crimes are brought to justice.
“We believe that existing regulation of the scrap metal industry through the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 needs to be revised, as the law is no longer fit for purpose. We are therefore in discussions to agree on the most appropriate option for bringing these changes forward.”