Scrap metal dealers bill welcomed by Ecclesiastical, church insurers and Energy Networks Association in Gloucestershire
NEW legislation to crack down on metal thefts has been welcomed by a major insurer in the county.
The Scrap Metal Dealers Bill has now received final parliamentary approval and is set to become law by the end of the month.
The act's key reform will be to ban traders from making cash transactions and Gloucester-based Ecclesiastical Insurance said that was good news.
The firm has paid out a staggering £27 million in claims from 11,000 churches who'd had metal stolen since January 2007, its church insurance director John Coates said.
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"This is very welcome news," he said. "We are another step closer to a more tightly regulated scrap metals industry."
Mr Coates said among the claims there had been over 100 metal thefts from churches in the Gloucester Diocese since January 2007, which was when the issue really started escalating.
Those claims amounted to more than £230,000, said Mr Coates.
"This is a big step forward in our fight against the epidemic of metal theft and will make a huge difference to churches and communities across the country."
The new law will also impose tougher licensing on scrap dealers, making it harder for criminals to sell stolen metals.
Metal railings and gates in public parks, manhole covers, lead from roofs and even metal engine fittings from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway have been stolen in Gloucestershire in recent years. Other targets include wires and pipes belonging to gas and electricity transmission and distribution networks who are represented by the Energy Networks Association.
Its chief executive David Smith agreed the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill was a hugely positive step forward and a major success. The association had campaigned for the changes. "Replacing the outdated laws will deal a firm blow to the criminals who have plagued our national infrastructure, memorials and heritage," he said.