Community Safety

Lambeth councillors to investigate problem of metal theft

A cross-party group of Lambeth councillors has been established to investigate what steps the council and others can take to reduce metal theft in and around the borough.

It follows a spate of high-profile metal thefts in Lambeth and across the country, including theft of copper from the roof of West-Norwood Library and the callous theft of memorials at West Norwood Cemetery.

Over the course of the summer and early autumn, Lambeth Council’s scrutiny commission will seek advice from the police, local scrap metal-dealers, affected businesses (including BT and Network Rail), community groups and individual residents.  The commission will also seek to influence plans currently before parliament to develop a local authority licensing regime for scrap-metal dealers.

Councillors are particularly eager to identify the personal impact of metal-theft on residents.  If you would like to share your views with councillors or would like more information on the commission’s work you can email scrutiny@lambeth.gov.uk, contribute to discussion through the Lambeth Council – Democracy Live page, tweet @LBLDemocracy or call the Scrutiny Team on 020 7926 2235.  The commission will hold an information-gathering session on 6 September 2012 (venue TBC) that members of the public can attend to share their views.

Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, Chair of the commission, said: “The impact of metal-theft ranges from the tragic theft of personal items such as memorials to the daily frustrations and costs of transport delays.  Whilst the issue is a national one and the current Private Members Bill is welcomed we believe that the issue can only be tackled effectively through working together with other London councils, the police and affected businesses. We want this piece of work to influence how the council responds to the issue and also how London stands up and deals with the matter.”

Councillor Jack Hopkins, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection said: “Metal theft is a problem across the country but I am pleased that Lambeth is taking a lead in the fight against this type of crime.

“It is a crime that causes huge disruption and distress. We’ve been calling for the government to do more to make sure thieves can’t profit from this crime and the findings of Lambeth’s Scrutiny Commission will help provide key information and help to highlight to parliament what we need changing nationally to help us make a difference at a local level where it really matters.”


  1. Local authorities are currently only required to register scrap metal dealers in the authority area.
  2. The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) introduced provisions relating to cashless trading for scrap metal dealers
  3. Richard Ottaway MP introduced a Private Members Bill to Parliament on 20 June 2012 that will, if passed, introduce a local authority-led self-financing licensing regime for scrap metal dealers.  The Bill includes provisions relating to how scrap metal dealers conduct their business (use of ID, cash), rights to inspect and rights to revoke licences.
  4. The commission’s progress and further information on its work can be found at http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/Services/CouncilDemocracy/Scrutiny/MetalTheftScrutinyCommission.htm


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