Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Monday, 7 November 2011

Labour calls for action on metal theft

The government has come under pressure from Labour to legislate to combat the "growing" problem of metal theft.

During a brief discussion on greater collaboration between police forces at Home Office questions on 7 November 2011, Barbara Keeley said one area where collaboration would be welcome was in dealing with metal theft which is "growing across the country".

The Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South cited a business in her constituency which had "lost its industrial process, meaning it then lost business" as a result of metal theft.

Addressing the government frontbench, she asked: "What are ministers going to do to make sure this collaboration [between police forces] increases and when, more importantly perhaps, are they going to bring forward legislation to deal with metal theft?"

Home Secretary Theresa May told the Commons the matter was of "serious concern" not least because of the impact it had on the economy but also because of the "appalling incidents" of metal plaque thefts from war memorials in the run up to Remembrance Day.

Mrs May told MPs the government was working closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) to see what legislative changes might be needed to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964.

She added that the government was also talking to the police to see what action could be taken to "better identify" rogue dealers in advance of any changes to the law.

The issue was raised again later on by Labour frontbencher Gloria De Piero, who told the Commons that much of the vandalism, anti-social behaviour and theft from war memorials was related to the illegal metal trade.

She wanted to know why there was a "hold up" in bringing legislation forward.

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire condemned the theft of metals from war memorials as "despicable" and reiterated Mrs May's earlier comments that the government and the police were working on a plan to combat the problem.

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