Roy Beggs, Ulster Unionist MLA for East Antrim, who is holding consultation events for MLA’s and Scrap Dealers is also asking for the public to respond to his Scrap Metal Dealers Bill (Private Member’s Bill) consultation which closes on 1 February 2014; Roy Beggs is proposing to end cash trading in Scrap Metal and to create an audit trail for scrap metal transactions, so inhibiting the 1500+ metal thefts occurring annually in NI.
Roy Beggs MLA said:
“The scrap metal industry is recognised by the Association of Chief Police Officers as being the principal market for stolen metal. The 1964 Scrap Metal Dealers Act in England has recently been up-dated to provide an audit trail of metal sales, yet no such legislation exists in Northern Ireland.
“With 1500 metal thefts occurring each year in NI, I believe that we need to change the law to help fight metal theft and so I have brought forward my Private Member Bill consultation for a Scrap Metal Dealers Bill (NI). I would ask for the public to support me by completing the on line consultation which closes on the 1st February 2014.
“The need to improve our legislation to assist in tackling metal theft became apparent to me following a spate of metal theft not far from my home. Newly installed underground electricity cable providing street lighting, was stolen from the village of Glenoe. A number of thefts of earthing metal from the Ballyvallagh substation not only put the lives of NIE engineers working there at risk but also threatened the electricity supply to 1000s of my constituents in Larne and the wider East Antrim area. I am also aware of churches in Larne and schools in Carrickfergus suffering from the theft of lead from roofs which have had to be replaced at great cost. Copper tanks and heating systems have been stolen from houses causing considerable expense making homes uninhabitable. ”
“The Environment Minister has indicated to me that such legislation would be ultra vires for his department but the Justice Minister, with responsibility has indicated that he is satisfied with the current incomplete voluntary schemes governing Scrap Metal Dealers.
“I am pleased with the encouragement that I have received from the Northern Ireland Utilities Working Group who have suffered themselves but are more concerned with the safety of the general public. Manhole covers have been stolen throughout Northern Ireland (West Belfast, Moy, Londonderry), putting children, pedestrians and road users in danger. In Great Britain, we have seen many cases where people have been hospitalised after falling into manholes when the covers have been removed by thieves. In Scotland we have seen cases where local communities lost 999 services due the theft of telecoms cables. Not only does this inconvenience residents, it adversely effects local businesses and with the increasing use of Telemedicine can put lives at risk.
“I am delighted with the support from Tony Glover, Director of Policy of the Energy Networks Association, and Ian Hetherington, Director General, British Metals Recycling Association who have taken the time to come to Belfast to brief local MLA’s. The lesson from England is that it is possible to regulate Scrap Metal Dealers and reduce crime without undue burdens on industry.
“Metal theft has resulted in considerable damage to property and significant replacement costs to constituents, businesses, voluntary groups and public bodies. I believe that a Scrap Metal Dealers Bill would be Right for Northern Ireland and ask for the community to support my consultation so that I will be able to proceed to draft new legislation for Northern Ireland..”