Historic Northampton Guildhall protected by new metal theft deterrent scheme

An example of the tile marking system.

An example of the tile marking system.

A new metal-marking scheme aimed to deter metal thieves has been trialled at two historic Northampton buildings and approved by the Minister for Criminal Information upon a visit.

It is estimated that 1,000 metal thefts take place per week in the UK and the issue costs the taxpayer around £220 million every year.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach, the Minister for Criminal Information, visited Northampton Guildhall to see the new technique. The 150-year-old building, along with the town’s St Peter’s Church, has been trialling a new permanent metal-marking technology.

Lead roof tiles at the Guildhall have been engraved by engineers from the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining with details of their owner and location. If these tiles are stolen, then the police can check them against a national database when they are seized.

This latest scheme comes weeks after the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill, which allows authorities to revoke licences if they suspect illegal activities by metal traders, received Royal Assent and could come into effect before the end of 2013.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach said: “This innovative project will help ensure historic buildings like Northampton Guildhall are not targeted by metal thieves.

“This crime wreaks havoc on communities and new projects like this will help us win the war against metal thieves and preserve the UK’s best-loved landmarks.

“This government has introduced strict new rules to clamp down on this type of theft including banning dealers from trading in cash, increasing financial penalties and giving police new powers of entry to metal yards.”

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