Transport group Stagecoach is calling on the government to introduce tough new measures to tackle the growing problem of cable theft on the UK rail network, which is said to cost the economy £770M annually.
The company wants to see new regulations including forcing scrap metal dealers to pay a licence fee to local authorities and giving police the power to close scrap metal dealers, similar to alcohol licensing, and the authority to search and investigate premises owned and operated by a scrap metal dealer.
Stagecoach Group chief executive Brian Souter has written to Baroness Browning, minister for crime prevention and anti-social behaviour reduction, asking to urgently implement the measures.
The action follows a number of recent cable theft incidents, including an incident last week near London Bridge which was said to have caused hundreds of thousands pounds in damage.
Full Stagecoach cable theft measures
Stagecoach has written to the government asking for the following measure to be implemented:
- A robust licensing regime — rather than the present registration system — with clear requirements upon the dealer to take steps to reduce the risk that stolen materials are purchased or received.
- Scrap metal dealers to pay a licence fee to give local authorities greater funds to facilitate the regulation of the licence.
- Property obtained by breaches of the legislation to be classed as criminal assets allowing Proceeds of Crime provisions to apply.
- Police powers to close scrap metal dealers and to search and investigate all premises owned and operated by a scrap metal dealer.
- Measures to restrict trade in scrap metals to cashless payments and introduction of a requirement that scrap metal must be held for a certain period before being sold or processed in order to allow payments to be processed.
- Searchable records to be kept of proof of identity of the seller of scrap and any vehicles used to transport it, for example through photo ID and CCTV.
- Magistrate powers to add restrictions on to licences and to prevent re-opening of closed yards until conditions have been met.