By Jenni Davidson
A new law gives Brighton and Hove City Council more power to combat scrap metal theft.
Scrap metal thefts have led to manhole covers and road signs going missing, church roofs being vandalised, monuments being desecrated and trains being delayed due to damage to the tracks.
Between the end of September and the end of October Sussex Police received 11 reports of scrap metal theft in Brighton and Hove.
These included lead being stolen from roofs, exhausts being taken from cars and brass door fittings removed from homes.
The Scrap Metal Dealers Act, which was introduced in October, means that scrap metal dealers will need a licence from the council to sell metal.
The act creates two different types of licences, a site licence which allows a dealer to carry on business at a site in the area and a collector’s licence, which allows dealers who do not have a site to collect through door to door collections.
The licences are valid for three years and must be displayed on site premises and on vehicles used by collectors.
Operating without a licence will become a criminal offence and councils will have the power to vary, refuse and revoke licences.
Cllr Stephanie Powell, chair of the Licensing Committee said: “Scrap metal theft is a growing problem for councils and the effects can be extremely serious, particularly when roofs and highways are affected.
“We welcome these new powers which will root out unscrupulous operators while ensuring that legitimate and law abiding dealers are properly licensed.”
The highest profile metal theft in the city was when the bronze statue of Steve Ovett was stolen from Preston Park in 2007.