Source: London Assembly
There were 108 thefts of catalytic converters from motor vehicles in Barnet in 2018, according to the latest Metropolitan Police figures, obtained in a written response from the Mayor of London. Local London Assembly Member, Andrew Dismore AM, raised concerns that the thefts were coming at a large cost to local people, and said cuts to the Metropolitan Police could be impeding the investigation of crimes such as thefts and robberies.
Catalytic converter thefts across London saw a substantial increase in 2018. During this period, there were 1,484 of these offences in the capital, compared to only 173 over the course of 2017.
Catalytic converters are devices installed in vehicles to control emissions. Metals found in catalytic converters, such as rhodium, palladium and platinum can be highly lucrative and recycled for use in medical tools, jewellery and electronics.
As a result of these thefts, the victims are left with significant repair and replacement bills which can total around £2,000.
In a response to a written question on catalytic converter thefts, the Mayor has advised that the Metropolitan Police will contact vehicle manufacturers once they can establish specific trends associated with the crime.
In the same response, the Mayor also clarifies that there is currently no dedicated police resource to tackle the crime with reported offences instead designated for investigation by local police officers.
The latest Ministry of Justice statistics show that convictions for scrap metal dealing offences have decreased across the country, seeing only 64 in 2018. This is a 72% drop from the 230 prosecutions made in 2014, following the passing of the Scrap Metal Dealer Act in the preceding year aimed at strengthening enforcement in this area.
During a recent lecture given to members of the Police Foundation, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, highlighted the “woefully low” rates for solving crime across the UK.
In July, five ex-Commissioners of the Met Police wrote a letter to The Times warning that police resources have been “drained to dangerously low levels”.
Since 2010, the Met Police have been forced to make £850 million of savings due to Government cuts and face the prospect of having to withhold a further £263 million from their budget by 2022/23.
Local London Assembly Member, Andrew Dismore AM, said:
“It might be the case that there is low public awareness around the recent sharp rise in catalytic converter theft, but this is something that should concern us all.
“The fact that organised gangs can carry out these thefts so brazenly is sadly symptomatic of the damage that has been wrought upon our police forces by almost a decade of swingeing and reckless Government cuts.
“It is only right that the Met are prioritising their overstretched resources to tackle the scourge of violent crime on our streets. However, it is not banal to argue that with more officers on our streets and detectives in place, specialist forms of crime such as catalytic converter theft, could be more effectively prosecuted and even prevented in the first place”.