Crackdown on scap metal theft outlined

PROPOSED new legislation aimed at clamping down on scrap metal theft has been welcomed by farming organisations.

The plans, announced yesterday (January 26) by the Home Secretary Teresa May, will make it a criminal offence to purchase scrap metal for cash, and increase penalties under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964.

Announcing the move, she said the Government considered legislation was 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.

“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.”

She said the amendments to existing legislation were part of the Government’s wider attempts to tackle all stages in the illegal trading of stolen scrap metal, and further measures would be introduced in due course.

NFU chief rural affairs adviser David Collier said: “We are very pleased to see this move from Government, as metal theft has become a scourge for the farming industry.

“This will make it so much harder to sell stolen metal, and we hope it will deter criminals from engaging in this practice.

“The NFU has identified a number of steps that should be taken, including giving the police powers to close scrapyards that support criminal activity, and magistrates powers to restrict dealers’ freedom to operate.”

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) president Harry Cotterell described it as ‘excellent news’ and the proposed amendment was what the CLA’s Scrap the Cash campaign had been calling for.

Mr Cotterell added: “We will, of course, keep up the pressure until the law is changed and the menace of scrap metal theft recedes.” 

He said CLA members had reported ‘hundreds of incidences’ of metal thefts from their properties and complained that not enough was being done to stop gangs stealing to order because the police were not given enough power to curb the problem.

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