It has been reported that the Government plans to introduce a clause in a Bill going through Parliament that would lead to cashless payments for scrap metal and unlimited fines for dealers that accept stolen metal.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the Home Office is planning to insert a clause into the Legal Aid Bill, which is currently being scrutinised by MPs and is set to become law by April.
This clause would seek to introduce cashless payments as well as remove the £1,000 fine limit for trading in stolen metals currently on the statute book.
However, the Government is unlikely to introduce the measures proposed by MP Graham Jones in a Private Members Bill that also called for improved identification of customers and a record of this to be kept by metal recyclers.
A Home Office spokesman told SCM that the Government accepts the need for legislation and is currently looking into ways of getting that legislation in place as soon as possible, and using the most appropriate legislative vehicle to do that.
He added: “Metal theft is a serious and growing problem and the Government is working hard with industry, police and law enforcement agencies to tackle it.
“It is clear law dating back to the 1960s is not sufficient to deal with an increasingly organised crime. That is why we are looking at a range of legislative options, including ending payments in cash for scrap metal.
“In the meantime, we are working with the police and other law enforcement agencies on immediate action to target metal thieves and rogue scrap metal dealers who trade in stolen goods.
“To step up enforcement work we are also establishing a dedicated national taskforce led by the British Transport Police.”
However, many scrap dealers have fears that cashless payments will not help reduce crime, but will force it underground.
One scrap dealer, who did not wish to be named, told SCM: “As a small, long established business, which deals with many small customers – many with domestic scrap in small amounts – it would clearly be expensive and time consuming to have to perform bank transactions for minor purchases. Bone fide merchants do not want to buy stolen metal of any description.”
He added that he would like to see a requirement for improved ID as long as it was not over-exhaustive for transactions involving minor purchases as this would help to provide an audit trail for material.