A new plan to tackle metal theft in Lambeth has been developed by the council’s Metal Theft Scrutiny Commission that could see a code of conduct introduced for scrap dealers.
The move follows a spate of high-profile metal thefts, including copper being ripped from the roof of West Norwood Library and memorials taken from West Norwood Cemetery.
As well as developing the code of conduct, Lambeth Council was the first local authority in London to sign up to the Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage which was started to protect heritage buildings.
It has been recommended that Lambeth Council as a member of the Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage should create a register of at risk older buildings and work out how to best protect them from crime – including metal theft.
It has also been recommended that Lambeth encourage neighbouring boroughs to take similar steps and introduce their own codes of conduct for scrap metal dealers.
The new tactics have been developed by Lambeth Council’s Metal Theft Scrutiny Commission following new legislation passed by Parliament in December to tackle the sale of stolen metal.
The Scrap Metal Dealers Act gives extra powers to regulate the industry. The Commission has welcomed the new laws, but its councillors feel there’s the potential in Lambeth to go beyond the new legislation to stop the problem.
Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite, commission chairwoman, 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.
“To tackle metal theft successfully we need enforcement agencies to use the full-range of their powers and to employ a range of interventions, not just focus on the existing legislation.
“This could include working closer with those responsible for at-risk assets or residents keeping a closer eye on their local heritage. We believe our recommendations would help the downward trend in metal theft to continue.”
The Metal Theft Scrutiny Commission consulted Lambeth Council officers, the police, local scrap metal-dealers, BT, Network Rail, English Heritage and community groups before coming to its findings.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet member for Safer and Stronger Neighbourhoods, said: “Metal theft has become a very serious issue, not just in Lambeth but across the country. It can be emotionally devastating when remembrance plaques are stolen and cause huge damage when buildings used by the community
“The thieves who do this need to be brought to justice – but we also want to tackle the problem by making metal theft harder to commit and profit from.”
The Metal Theft Scrutiny Commission report is published on the agenda for the March 13 meeting of Environment & Community Safety Scrutiny Sub-Committee and is available at http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/moderngov/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=111&MId=8150&Ver=4.
If approved by the sub-committee the report will be submitted to Lambeth Council, Lambeth Police and the Safer Lambeth Partnership who are required to respond to the commissions recommendations.