METAL theft in Cumbria has risen by a whopping 105 per cent over the past year putting the county among the top ten worst regions in the country.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics state that 16,552 incidents of metal theft were recorded across England and Wales in 2018, up 25 per cent on the previous year’s figure.

New research conducted by metals4U has uncovered some of the key trends and stats relating to the issue of metal theft.

Metals4U is the UK’s industry leader in the supply of superior quality grades of steel, copper, bronze, and brass to retail, wholesale, hobbyists and industrial sectors.

The business commissioned a study into the issue of metal theft across England and Wales, while also engaging with representatives from the British Transport Police and Network Rail.

The ten regions that saw the biggest increase in metal theft between 2017 and 2018:

1. Dorset 287%

2. North Wales 135%

3. North Yorkshire 115%

4. Cumbria 105%

5. Humberside 100%

6. Hampshire 99%

7. Surrey 95%

8. Norfolk 81%

9. Nottinghamshire 76%

10. Warwickshire 67%

Metal theft has also had an acute impact on the delivery of rail services across England and Wales.

Network Rail reports there were more than 950 hours of delays in England, Wales and Scotland last year, affecting more than 7,000 journeys.

And while overall metal theft is up by a quarter, the latest figures reveal that live railway cable theft is up 85 per cent, at a cost of millions to the taxpayer every year.

The latest British Transport Police statistical bulletin reports that trespass and theft now account for 43 per cent of all disruption to services.

British Transport Police’s national lead for metal crime, Superintendent Mark Cleland, says that tackling the rogue dealers that trade in stolen property is key to addressing the issue.

He said: “We work with police forces nationally to root out metal crime and ensure that thieves are identified and brought before the courts.

“Of course, a big part of tackling this issue is identifying thieves and the scrap metal dealers who continue to trade in stolen property.

Network Rail are also supporting efforts to tackle the illegal and unlicensed trading of metal.

A spokesperson explained: “We are using forensic marking agents, introducing cables which are harder to steal and easier to identify and setting up a dedicated security team.

“Together with other essential infrastructure providers, we successfully lobbied the Government to introduce the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013.

“The Act means that scrap metal dealers must be licensed, and local authorities have the power to refuse unsuitable applicants and revoke licences."