Scrap dealers are the “weak link” in tackling metal theft according to the House of Commons Transport Committee, which has recommended trialling a cashless system.
Last year over 35,000 journeys were delayed or cancelled due to metal theft and the cost to Network Rail was more than £16M.
The committee was reporting back from an inquiry into cable theft on the railways, which found that it was too easy for criminals to sell stolen metal to scrap metal dealers.
The committee recommended that police be given extra powers so that they can enter registered and unregistered scrap metal sites. They also want a new offence introduced of aggravated trespass on the railway.
“Current legislation for regulating scrap metal dealers is out of date” said Transport Committee chairman Louise Ellman. “We need urgent reform to improve the audit trail generated by the scrap metal industry so that criminals selling stolen metal into the trade can be identified much more easily.”
Reform of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 so that individuals selling metal have to provide proof of their identity before a transaction can take place.
Greater clarity around compensation arrangements so train operators cannot profit from disruption caused by cable theft.
Network Rail should develop a costed programme of measures to make cable more difficult to steal.
The Department for Transport should update the Committee on work being undertaken to help passengers stranded on trains near stations to complete their journey.