Law change call to tackle metal thefts

Workmen repair the damage caused by metal thieves at Flakefleet Primary School.
Workmen repair the damage caused by metal thieves at Flakefleet Primary School.

A NATIONWIDE epidemic of metal thefts has blighted areas across Wyre, including Fleetwood.

Now calls have been made by a former Fleetwood councillor for a change in scrap metal laws in a bid to halt the thefts.

Norman Irish, chairman of the Lancashire Neighbourhood Watch forum

Norman Irish, chairman of the Lancashire Neighbourhood Watch forum

Neighbourhood Watch leader Norman Irish believes his group’s national campaign to prevent the scrap metal trade continuing as a cash-in-hand industry is a positive step.

Almost 35,000 people have signed a government petition supporting an amendment to the law prohibiting cash transactions and making payment by cheque or directly into a bank account mandatory.

Mr Irish, chairman of the Lancashire Neighbourhood Watch forum (left), said he would like to promote the campaign.

He said: “Obviously with the value of metal on the up we have to look at other ways of preventing scrap metal theft, this is a positive step.

“If it is illegal to just hand over cash and more details are required it would hopefully put a stop or reduce the number of rogue sales.”

Earlier this month police admitted metal thieves are plaguing the Fylde coast as figures revealed thefts have risen by 400 per cent.

Among those affected in Fleetwood were the town’s magistrates’ court, Trinity Methodist Church on Fleetwood Road, Flakefleet Primary School, Fleetwood Cemetery and numerous private addresses.

Areas across Blackpool have been affected as well, and in one terrible national case, a woman fell down a manhole after a drain cover was stolen.

The figures released this month showed there were 689 metal theft crimes reported between January and September this year – an extra 500 than in the same period last year.

A combination of the recession and the rising value of various metals have meant that thefts have rocketed.

The result is that not only are buildings being badly damaged but lives are being put at risk - including those of the thieves.

Police have vowed to stamp out the problem with operations across the coast but Neighbourhood Watch groups are calling for a change in the law.

Jim Maddan, chairman of the Neighbourhood Watch Network, added: “For too long, dodgy scrap metal dealers have been running a cash only business with no records of transactions.

“All we are asking for is for a move to a cashless business model.

“The existing legislation is nearly 50-years-old and out of date.”