Dr Luke Evans, Member of Parliament for Bosworth, has called on the Government to work with the Church Commissioners for England to tackle the blight of lead theft from church roofs.
In response to a question by Dr Evans in the House of Commons Church Commissioners have confirmed that the theft of lead is once again on the rise; and research conducted by the Countryside Alliance, under the Freedom of Information Act, has revealed the Leicestershire is the force area with the highest level of lead theft incidents in England.
Dr Luke said “In the 20 month period leading up to 28 August last year there were 103 thefts of lead from the roofs of religious buildings in Leicestershire, including a number of offences over the years being carried out in my own constituency, that’s more than anywhere else in the country. What’s more, these are only incidents that we know about. It could well be that the number is higher.
“Lead theft is a serious crime in our rural communities, one that can do great damage to the fabric of our historic churches; and can be extremely costly to repair, especially when insurance won’t cover repeat incidents. We have to take more effective steps to prevent this crime which is sadly once again increasing.
“I am grateful to the Church Commissioners for asking the Government to take steps to strengthen the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, it is important that the Government acts quickly to put effective measures in place”
Sarah Lee, Head of Policy at the Countryside Alliance, a campaigning organisation that promotes the rural way of life, said: “It’s both a shocking and sad reality that churches and religious buildings are being targeted for their lead. There’s no quick-fix solution to tackling this scourge, but clearly the time has come to re-visit the Scrap Dealers Act to ensure it reflects changing nature of organised crime.
“We would encourage communities in & around Hinckley and Market Bosworth, as well as the wider county, to be more vigilant when it comes to watching over churches and places of worship by reporting suspicious activity. This is particularly important in rural areas, where churches are more remote.”