MPs are calling on the Government to act with more urgency in tackling metal theft, as the crime has cost the railway industry over £16m in the last year, as well as disrupting passenger journeys.

The Transport Select Committee suggests that scrap dealers should be legally required to show proof of identity at the sale of scrap metal. They also recommend that Government should test a ban on cash payments, create a new offence of aggravated trespass on the railway and provide the police with greater powers to inspect scrap metal yards.

Additionally, there should be greater clarity around compensation arrangements and more information available on the help for stranded passengers.

Committee chairwoman, Labour MP Louise Ellman, said: “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.”

Rail minister Norman Baker said: “The metal theft task force announced in the Autumn Statement is already getting under way to target the thieves and those who trade in stolen metal. We are also examining other options, including legislation to tighten the regulation of the scrap metal industry.”

Dyan Crowther, director of operational services at Network Rail, added: “We’re doing all we can to protect our rail network – investing around £2m each year on mitigation measures, including funding extra [police] officers, using CCTV, forensic marking techniques and other technology.

“To an extent our actions can help us manage the crimes but, despite our efforts, they continue to increase. We believe that the only way to significantly reduce metal crime is to take away the illegal market and that more robust legislation and police powers are needed to achieve that.”

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said: “Train companies are working tirelessly with the rest of the industry to tackle the problem, and will continue to call for tougher measures to allow police to close down rogue traders for good.”

Tell us what you think at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Author's Bio: 

Roy Rowlands writes for Rail Technology Magazine an independent technical trade journal for the UK rail industry offering a wide view of rail news views and opinions, he also writes for rtmjobs.com a rail jobs board reporting on the latest trends in rail recruitment