NETWORK Rail has warned that organised criminal gangs are ‘increasingly’ targeting metal used in infrastructure.
Theft incidents from the rail management firm’s North West & Central line (London to Gretna) caused 18,359 minutes of delays to passengers over the last two years and cost the taxpayer an estimated £1.7 million.
As a result, Network Rail has reminded scrap dealers that, under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, they must ensure traded metal is legally sourced and that sellers’ details are recorded and kept as part of any sale. Surprise scrap dealer site visits, in conjunction with the telecoms industry, have been conducted by Network Rail in recent weeks.
Natalie Stretton, performance improvement specialist for railway crime at Network Rail, said,“Cable theft can cause huge problems for passengers at a very significant cost to our business – which is of course funded by the taxpayer.
“To stop the trade of illegal scrap metal, dealers must be vigilant if offered materials which could have been illegally obtained. Our ongoing visits to scrap metal yard allow us to ensure that dealers are trading safely and lawfully.
“Trespassing on the railway is incredibly dangerous, as well as illegal. Thieves are not just risking a criminal record when they come onto the railway to commit crimes, but risking their lives too.”
Superintendent Mark Cleland, British Transport Police national lead for metal crime, added,“We’re working with partners across the entire country and throughout the metals recycling industry to target those who we suspect of flouting the law or operating outside of their licence.
“By taking a multi-agency approach, we are maximising our ability to identify those who are attacking our national infrastructure, making it harder for them to sell stolen metal and gain from their activities.
“We’re warning would-be offenders that we will take action against them and anyone involved in the theft and trade of metal from the railway will be brought to justice.”