We are working with police and manufacturers through the national vehicle crime working group to tackle the theft of catalytic converters.
In many areas of the country, crime is going down. It is going down in many areas in Bromley and Chislehurst, but one area where it is not is the explosion in catalytic converter thefts in my constituency. Ours has been identified by the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead as one of the highest areas for this crime. These are not opportunistic thefts. Does my right hon. Friend agree that these are thefts by organised crime gangs seeking valuable metals that are sold for considerable amounts of money—platinum and palladium—carried out by men armed with baseball bats, threatening violence? Will he ensure that much greater priority is given to this crime and that we clamp down on the handlers of these stolen goods by greater enforcement of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013?
My hon. Friend, with his usual acuity, has put his finger on the button of this issue. It is cause for significant concern in parts of the country, and he is right that it is a product of prices in the metal market. He will be pleased to hear that just this month the British Transport Police co-ordinated a national week of intensification on acquisitive crime, looking particularly at catalytic converters, and that the work we have done on scrap metal dealers will go some way to dealing with the problem. However, we need to work much more closely with manufacturers to ensure that they do as much as they can to design out the theft of converters. Let us hope that in the years to come, as we all convert to electric vehicles, it will become a problem of the past.