Hethersett rector backs petition to amend scrap metal law

A Norfolk rector is urging people to sign a national petition calling for new regulations on the sale of scrap metal following a series of devastating lead thefts from churches.

Rev Di Lammas, rector of the parish churches in Hethersett, Great Melton and Little Melton, is hoping the government will listen to pleas to ban cash transactions as a way of curbing the trade of stolen metal.

About �4,000 worth of damage was caused to St Remigius Church, in Hethersett, overnight last Wednesday when thieves stripped its roof of a large section of lead and used a vehicle to ram its gates.

All Saints Church at Little Melton has also been targeted five times within the last four years which led to church officials applying to English Heritage to replace its lead with brushed steel in a bid to make it less attractive to would-be thieves.

Rev Lammas said church staff have used the latest crime prevention techniques, such as covering lead with an invisible marker which rubs on to the thieves, but these have done little to act as a deterrent while prices for scrap metal remain high.

She is now encouraging people to sign an e-petition demanding the government amends the Scrap Metal Merchants Act 1964 to make it mandatory for sales of metal to be carried out with cheques or bank cards as a way to help trace those dealing with stolen goods.

So far the e-petition has gathered about 17,000 signatures, but needs 100,000 names to make the issue eligible for debate in the House of Commons.

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Rev Lammas said: 'The people of Little Melton have felt quite devastated by it. There's a fear the lead will go every time it's replaced - it's been very hard. They are a small community and it's cost them a lot of money and time and energy.'

She added: 'This (e-petition) could make a big difference. It's not just churches affected, but schools, businesses and houses. The scrap metal dealers won't like it, but those who are stealing scrap metal won't either so I'm trying to encourage as many people as possible to sign it.'

To sign the e-petition, visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk

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