In a statement to Parliament Theresa May said the Government would:
• create a new criminal offence to prohibit cash payments when purchasing scrap metal
• introduce unlimited penalties on those who break the law.
In November last year the Government announced that a dedicated metal theft taskforce would be established.
These changes are part of a wider plan to tackle all stages in the illegal trading of stolen scrap metal and further measures to crack down on rogue dealers will soon be outlined.
Commenting on the announcement, Stuart Andrew MP, said:
'People across Pudsey are disgusted by metal thieves and the criminals who deal in stolen metal. I have been contacted about a number of cases where lead has been stripped from churches and residential buildings, costing huge amounts of money to remedy and leaving property owners worried that the replacement material will be stolen too.’
‘We need to protect business, the public and our national heritage from metal theft and that’s why I’m pleased to back the Government’s action.'
‘I am sure that many people will have shared my disgust at the recent news reports of war memorials being stolen and sold for scrap and agree that it’s right that the Government is stopping cash payments and introducing tough penalties to clamp down on the illegal metal trade’
Theresa May gave a statement to the Commons outlining the Government’s plans.
She said: ‘I am announcing today our intention to lay a Government amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill to tackle metal theft. The Government consider that legislation is the only sustainable, long-term solution to the growing menace of metal theft. There is an urgent need to make stealing metal less attractive to criminals, and tackling the stolen metal market will act as a significant deterrent.
That is why I can confirm that we will lay amendments to: create a new criminal offence to prohibit cash payments to purchase scrap metal; and significantly increase the fines for all offences under the existing Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 that regulates the scrap metal recycling industry.
Cash transactions for scrap metal are often completed without any proof of personal identification or proof that the individual legitimately owns the metal being sold. This leads to anonymous, low-risk transactions for those individuals who steal metal. In addition, the widespread use of cash facilitates poor record keeping by the metal recycling industry and can support tax evasion activity. Today’s announcement follows the commitment outlined in the national infrastructure plan published in November 2011 when the Government announced £5 million to establish a dedicated metal theft taskforce to enhance law enforcement activity in this area. These amendments are part of our wider attempts to tackle all stages in the illegal trading of stolen scrap metal, and we shall bring forward further measures in due course’ (Hansard, 26 January 2012, Col. 26WS).