News from Leonie Cooper: Almost 3,000 catalytic converter thefts in London in six months
Almost 3,000 catalytic converter thefts in London in first half of 2019 alone, new police figures reveal
There has been an average of 482 catalytic converter thefts per month across London during the first half of 2019, with over two thirds of the vehicles involved linked to one manufacturer. The new figures have been revealed by the Metropolitan Police in a response to a letter from London Assembly Member, Leonie Cooper AM, which asked about the actions the Met have taken to liaise with vehicle manufacturers on the issue and identify any trends in the volume of thefts taking place.
The new data confirms that there has been an upward trend in the scale of catalytic converter theft taking place in the capital. In 2018, there were 1,484 of these offences recorded by the Met Police, compared to only 173 over the course of 2017, according to a written response provided by the Mayor of London to a question submitted by Ms Cooper AM.
In her letter to the Met, dated 25th July 2019, Ms Cooper asked for reassurances that the police would work with manufacturers to encourage them to develop approved Secured By Design products for catalytic converters in order to stem the rise in thefts.
Commander Bas Javid, from the Metropolitan Police’s Frontline Policing Directorate, has now responded, stating that they are unaware of any Secured By Design approved products currently available on the market to prevent catalytic converter theft. In his letter, he also highlights that due to the variation in vehicle production and design, it would be difficult for the police to work with manufacturers to develop a universal solution for this type of crime.
However, Commander Javid proceeds to reveal that over two thirds of catalytic converter theft offences recorded since January 2019 have involved vehicles linked to one manufacturer. He also confirms that the Met Police have contacted the manufacturer to raise the issue.
Ms Cooper has also raised concerns about the ability of the police to investigate and prevent catalytic converter theft in the wake of Government cuts to the Met Police’s budget, which are set to exceed £1 billion by 2022/2023.
In his response, Commander Javid, has confirmed that with the reductions in their budget, the Met Police have needed to prioritise their response to focus on certain offences, especially those related to violent crime.
The new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has made a national pledge to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers across police forces in England and Wales over the next three years.
The College of Policing have welcomed the proposal but highlighted the logistical challenges involved in this recruitment process, including the current lack of training instructors and police stations.
London Assembly Member, Leonie Cooper AM, said:
“The response I have received from the Met has confirmed my concern that catalytic converter theft has continued to rise significantly into this year.
“This marks a very worrying trend in a brazen and sophisticated form of organised crime which is costing an increasing number of victims thousands of pounds, on top of the trauma they might experience.
“It is positive that the Met have taken action on this and contacted the manufacturer of the vehicles that they have identified as the most likely to be involved in these offences.
“The significant fall in police numbers, over the last decade, due to Government cuts, has clearly not helped matters and the Met have underlined the fact that reductions to their budget have had an impact on their policing priorities.
“We are yet to see any specific details of the Prime Minister’s pledge for extra officers on the streets of the capital and we need urgent clarification over how many will be allocated to the Met Police”.
Notes to editors
- A copy of Commander Bas Javid’s letter to Leonie Cooper AM, dated 7th August 2019, can be found attached;
- A copy of Leonie Cooper AM’s letter to the Metropolitan Police on catalytic converter thefts, dated 25th July 2019, can also be found attached;
- 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. Victims of catalytic converter thefts are likely to be left with significant repair and replacement bills which can total around £2,000;
- Since 1993, to meet European Emissions standards, it has been a legal requirement for all petrol cars manufactured in the UK to have a catalytic converter installed in the exhaust;
- Data revealed in a response by the Mayor of London to a written question submitted by Leonie Cooper AM, shows that that there were 1,484 catalytic converter theft offences across the capital in 2018, compared to only 173 over the course of 2017;
- 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;
- The new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has made national pledge to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers across police forces in England and Wales over the next three years. The College of Policing have welcomed the proposal but highlighted the logistical challenges involved in this recruitment process including the current lack of training instructors and police stations;
- Leonie Cooper AM is the London Assembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth.