Information published on 18 February 2014 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 386.

Pol-Primett (Police – Private Partnership to Tackle Metal Theft) 2 first Expert User Group meeting

  • Security

UIC, represented by Mr Jacques Colliard (Head of the UIC Security Division) and Mr José Pires (Senior Advisor of the UIC Security Division), attended Pol-Primett 2, the first Expert User Group meeting on 12 February 2014.

Pol-Primett 2 aims to develop a police-private sector partnership to reduce metal theft across Europe to improve collaboration between law enforcement agencies and the private sector and provide a better understanding of metal theft. The project also intends to create an Expert User Group from law enforcement agencies and the private sector to improve communication and to share good practice providing a legacy of collaboration and a reduction in metal theft.

At this first meeting of the EU funded project Pol-Primett second phase, the focus was given to the need to keep the pressure on the prevention and awareness of metal theft. As Mr Gordon Meldrum, Director of the NCA Organised Crime Command led participants to understand, metal theft will not go away, therefore there is a need to continue to work together and always try to be a step ahead.

This is promising given the fact that this first meeting brought together many different actors from the telecommunications, transport, energy and national and international law enforcement sectors.

Mrs Cristina Checchinato from Europol reinforced the idea that a collaborative effort has the biggest impact when it targets the right “crime”. This being the case and as an example Europol can better support the actions towards European metal theft mitigation.

UIC presented a view of Metal theft on the Railways under the topic “Creating resilience within the private sector”.

The pragmatic approach is that metal theft continues to cost railways hundreds of millions of euros per year in direct costs and causes tens of thousands of hours of delays to its citizens.

Its effects are felt on rail passenger services where in the last couple of years it is estimated that more than a million passenger journeys were delayed or cancelled as a result of metal theft having caused thousands of minutes of delays. This is also the case on rail freight services where rail freight undertakings have experienced thousands of minutes of delays due to metal theft over the past years. And this is even more of a concern if rail safety and security are taken into account: On 11 January 2011, an ICE train derailed near the Dutch city of Zevenaar. The cause of the accident was the theft of 300 metres of copper cable.

According to Pol-Primett findings the metal theft impacts in Europe are:

  • Metal theft costs the UK economy £770 million per year
  • Copper theft in Italy has increased by more than 70% from 2009 to 2011
  • ΟΣΕ – the Greek National Railway Company has suffered €12 million worth of damage since 2010
  • 75% of metal theft in Portugal is copper – 12% iron with utilities, rail networks and agriculture being the main areas affected
  • Poor collaboration between the police and private sector in Bulgaria has enabled organised crime groups to target gaps in enforcement
  • In the UK, Belgium, Portugal and Italy individuals have lost their lives attempting to steal metal

This is the reason why the UIC Metal Theft WG is aiming to be the Rail Forum representing all the railway collective bodies, authorities and its members. It provides technical support to the activities of EU bodies (CER/EIM) under the European Commission, in particular the DG MOVE LANDSEC advisory group activities. The UIC Metal Theft WG also acts as an information-sharing platform for railways/authorities on metal theft issues as a hub for good practice between the different sectors.

In particular with Pol-Primett the UIC Metal Theft WG is developing a partnership that fits into the WG strategy – to work and support the authorities and the legal institutions to introduce and take into account all the metal theft impacts such as repairs and replacement of stolen materials, costs of operational delays, damage to the image of the railways, technical consequences, etc. This partnership falls within the common understanding that only continuous, collaborative mitigation efforts can produce a tangible effect against this phenomenon.

Metal theft is far from being mitigated and it is in fact affecting multiple industries and by consequence society. Railways in particular cannot afford to be passive and wait for others to take action on their behalf. Railways’ response to this problem can and must be consistent across Europe as having a common and single objective “Mitigate metal theft and its impacts on railway users.”


6th UIC Metal Theft WG meeting in Vienna 14 – 15 May 2014 kindly hosted by Austrian Railways – ÖBB Group Security.

For further information please contact the UIC Security Division: Jacques Colliard: and/or José Pires: