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View from Westminster - February 9, 2012
1:22pm Thursday 16th February 2012 in MP's View - Mark Garnier
THE scourge of metal theft continues to be in news, not least as it continues to be a problem for a wide variety of people and organisations.
Indeed, so rife is it that churches, who are huge victims of this, can no longer get insurance cover for more than £5,000 worth of loss in the case of a stolen lead roof.
But it goes to a far wider reach; farms lose all sorts of equipment; railways and power companies are losing cable; businesses are losing plant, machinery and raw materials; householders are finding pipes and cabling stolen whilst they are away; and thieves are even targeting statues and, unbelievably, war memorials. This is truly rife.
However, there is a lot that we are doing in Westminster to tackle this and in the broadest sense, the laws are in place to deal with this; it is just the evidence gathering that is needed to help police secure prosecutions and convictions.
As vice chair of the all party parliamentary group set up to deal with this at the Westminster end, I have been very involved in this and we have secured a big positive.
The Government has started the process of making scrap metal trading a cashless system. This will mean that payments will have to be made direct to bank accounts and this means that police will know the identity of sellers.
It should not be underestimated how meaningful this measure is as the constitutional implications of removing a section of our economy from being allowed to use legal tender is very significant indeed. It shows a very high degree of resolve on the part of the government.
I met last week with the Wyre Forest Safety Partnership to hear more of the local problems regarding metal theft and hear more ideas of how to tackle this and help police.
The good news is that the police are making progress and that reported crimes in March last year were around 60, but have been reduced to just 17 in November.
But there were some incredibly helpful points brought up and I have had, this week, two opportunities to raise them.
The first came in a debate called by our APPG on metal theft on Tuesday evening, when a surprising number of MPs contributed in the relatively short amount of time given us. The second came at a meeting with both the Home Office minister and the Business minster on Wednesday.
I know full well how incredibly frustrated people are at this plague on our society, but we are doing everything we can to tackle it as soon as we can.
CONTACT YOUR MP
Email: mark.garnier.mp@ parliament.uk.
Telephone: 020 7219 7198 or 01562 746771.
Write: 9a Lower Mill Street, Kidderminster, DY11 6UU, or House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA.