Metal theft: government looking again at tougher penalties
The government has taken some steps on metal theft but I believe that more still needs to be done. I was saddened to see that that commemorative plaques have been stolen from a number of graves in Beckenham cemetary, including that of the father of Croydon MP Gavin Barwell, who is well known to many Conservative activists because he used to have an important campaigning role at CCHQ before becoming an MP.
However, I was encouraged by the response from Sir George Young when Gavin raised the issue in the Commons. Hat tip to Conservative Home (see link at right) for drawing my attention to this exchange:
Gavin Barwell (Croydon Central) (Con):
"Last night I learned that the plaque marking my father’s grave has been stolen, along with a huge number of other plaques in Beckenham cemetery. I am sure that all Members share my utter contempt for people who would steal, and trade in, such memorials. The Government have taken some action in relation to the scrap metal industry, but may we have a debate on what other measures might be needed, and in particular the proposal raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington South (David Mowat) at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s question on whether this should be an aggravating factor in sentencing?"
Sir George Young:
"I am very sorry to hear of what happened to my hon. Friend’s father’s tombstone; I understand how distressing that must be. He will know what the Prime Minister said at yesterday’s PMQs. We have already taken some steps in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, but we recognise that other measures may well be needed. The Government are actively considering what further steps we might take, such as increasing the penalties and having a better regulatory regime for scrap metal, in order to avoid distressing incidents such as that which my hon. Friend described."