31 October 2012
Church support for Scrap Metal Dealers Bill
Church of England bishops are calling on MPs to support the
Scrap Metal Dealers Bill on November 9. The epidemic of metal theft
continues to plague churches, war memorials, schools, heritage
properties, rail and utility services and even hospitals across the
UK. It has cost £27m¹ to repair the nearly 11,000 cases of criminal
damage inflicted on England's churches alone since 2007.
For the Church of England in 2012, the worst affected dioceses
have been Salisbury, Chelmsford and Winchester with 120 claims made
on insurance policies.
Consequently, bishops are supporting senior Conservative
backbencher Richard Ottaway's Scrap Metal Dealers Bill. It has its
remaining stages in the House of Commons on Friday, 9 November and
seeks to licence all scrap metal dealers, verify the identity of
all those selling metal and for all those cashless transactions to
be recorded. If passed by MPs the bill will progress to the House
The Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, says: "It
is shocking that more than 50 churches in my diocese have had metal
stolen this year. One church has suffered eight separate break-ins.
These thefts not only damage buildings, they destroy community by
demoralising the volunteers who care for these local facilities.
The 950 churchwardens who care for our churches are all committed
and hard working volunteers. They will be pleased if the Scrap
Metal Dealers Bill is passed by the House of Common on 9 November.
It will protect community assets."
The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin agrees. He says:
"I would urge as many MPs as have interest in the preservation of
not only our national heritage, but also the community bonds which
churches strengthen, to support the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill on 9
In the capital the Bishop of London has written to the MPs
representing the diocese asking for their support for the bill. The
Rt Rev Richard Chartres says, "Lead theft has had a devastating
impact on England's churches. The casual way in which a stripped
church roof can be sold for cash with no questions asked has led to
serious damage to our church buildings. The Church of England is
convinced that the measures in Richard Ottaway's Bill will make a
real difference in combating this dreadful crime."
While precautions including wireless roof security systems and
metal marking systems like "SmartWater" offer some deterrent to the
thefts, the isolated location of many churches make them tempting
targets for criminals. The proposed new legislation will fairly
regulate the scrap metal industry and act as a significant
deterrent to continuing metal theft.
¹ Figures from Ecclesiastical Insurance
Further details of the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill can be accessed