Calls for scrap metal controls after memorial plaques stolen

There are renewed calls for a change in the laws controlling the sale of scrap metal after thieves desecrated a First World War memorial.

Sutton Council wants to make it a legal requirement for dealers to record and confirm the details of all sellers.

It comes after criminals targeted the Carshalton War Memorial, ripping down 14 brass plaques commemorating Sutton's war dead. Police believe the plaques would fetch as little as £50 as scrap metal.

Under the existing legislation, dealers must take down the vehicle licence plate and name given by the seller, and there is no requirement to make any checks.

Lord Jenkin of Roding said in the House of Lords yesterday that the police needed more powers to shut down traders that dealt in stolen scrap metal. The former Tory cabinet minister said the laws needed to be overhauled to cut the rapidly rising number of thefts across the UK.

Councillor Graham Tope, of Sutton Council, said: "The scrap metal trade is a cash-based business with virtually no regulation. The law needs updating, with sellers being required to show ID and receive payment into their bank account; no legitimate seller would have a problem with this.

"The trend for stripping metal from roofs started a couple of years ago, but thieves are getting more and more heartless, and the latest attack on our war memorial has disgusted our community."

The memorial was unveiled on 13 March 1921 and listed more than 240 men killed in battle, including George Allen Victor, a 19-year-old errand boy.

It is thought that Victor lied about his age and that he may have been even younger when he enlisted in 1915. He served with the Border Regiment and was one of 639 men killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. PA