Richard Ottaway's Scrap Metal Dealers Bill is still under debate as the Third Reading takes place in the House of Commons this week.
If the Bill is passed, it will bring in tough but fair reforms to the industry, replacing the out of date laws that allow scrap metal trading without regulation.
The police have carried out tough enforcement and deterrent operations in recent months, with positive results, but these resource intensive initiatives are not sustainable in the long term.
Richard Ottaway, MP for Croydon South, said: “For too long the cash-in-hand and no questions asked culture in the scrap metal industry has allowed criminals to ply their trade under the cloak of anonymity. As a result of this largely unregulated £5.6bn industry – up to £1.5bn of which thrives tax-free because of a lack of honest record keeping – our transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructure is under constant threat.”
The Energy Networks Association (ENA) and MPs are calling for this legislative change as fresh attacks on our nation’s memorials and heritage are matched by the death of individuals engaging in the theft of dangerous electricity cables.
There have been over 4000 incidents of metal theft against the energy networks so far this year and a recent incident this summer saw a young man and his father attempting to steal copper cable from a wooden pole by cutting it down. The young man received fatal electrical burns and his father, also burnt, fled the scene. When being treated in hospital the father initially denied all knowledge of the death of his own son.
Last week, a Second World War memorial plaque was stolen in Brentwood, Essex, just as the nation prepares to remember those who have given their lives in the service of the country on Remembrance Sunday.
Chief executive of the ENA David Smith said: “The continued death of individuals and the risks to innocent people alongside the disgraceful and vile theft of a war memorial, especially at this time of year, show how vital it is that the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill is passed without hindrance next week.
“This is about enshrining effective and fair principles to tackle a dated and ineffective law. It has the support of the industry it will impact on and will deal a tough blow to criminals. If this is not addressed for the long term, sooner or later an innocent life will be lost and questions will be asked of those who stood in the way of it.”