Scrap metal dealers targeted as railway theft costs £1.4m to taxpayer

railway thefts
Credit: network rail

Network Rail and the British Transport Police are visiting scrap metal yards in Greater Manchester to ensure dealers are not trading stolen metal.

Latest figures have revealed more than 400 incidents of metal theft on the railway between London Euston and Carlisle in the 12 months to January 2020.

This has caused significant delays to passengers and costs the taxpayer an estimated £1.4m in Network Rail’s North West & Central Region.

Surprise scrap dealer site visits have taken place in recent weeks to remind traders of their obligations under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013.

By law, dealers must ensure the traded metal is legally sourced.

Anyone witnessing suspicious behaviour on or around the railway should report it to British Transport Police by calling 0800 40 50 40 or texting 61016.

What did the officials say?

Andrea Graham, project manager for route crime performance initiatives at Network Rail, said:

“Metal theft not only makes it harder to maintain our railway, but causes significant problems for passengers too.

“To stop the trade of illegal scrap metal, dealers must be vigilant if offered materials which could have been illegally obtained.

“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.”

Chief Inspector Gary Jones said:

“BTP officers regularly work with industry partners, particularly Network Rail, to catch out and target metal thieves, which includes paying surprise visits to scrap metal yards, as well as patrols and covert and overt operations.

“Our aim is to disrupt this criminal activity by targeting strategic points across the country.

“Anyone involved in the theft and trade of metal from the railway will be brought to justice. Cable theft on the rail system involves not only huge financial losses, but causes hours of delays to millions of passengers. It is not a victimless crime.

“It is also extremely dangerous for those involved who put themselves at risk of serious injury and death by trespassing on lines.”

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  1. What makes criminals so obsessed with live 25,000v overhead copper wires and signalling cables just because it’s made from steal. Would it make any difference if the copper wires were made from gold and the thieves would still steal it. Only to put themselves and others at risk.


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