Yesterday I raised with Ministers at the Home Office the growing problem of metal theft, which is an issue I hear about more and more in my constituency post-bag.
Churches across the country have long been aware of the problems caused by thieves stealing the lead from their roofs, which is despicable but the problem is evolving to become much more troubling.
Man-hole covers are increasingly being targeted, leaving hazardous, gaping trip hazards on pavements and roads. But most worrying are the trends for thieves to steal signalling cables from railways and gas pipes from school buildings. The potential consequences of these crimes are catastrophic and are avoided only by continuing good luck.
The solution proposed by many is amending the Scrap Metal Dealers Act so that payments can no longer be made in cash but rather through traceable and accountable bank transfers. This is not a comprehensive solution but is certainly a step in the right direction.
I entirely support Bedfordshire Police in their efforts to clamp down on this dangerous but mostly opportunistic crime. The Government has shown itself to be willing to listen and act on the problem, but it now needs to show a bit more urgency.