David Ruffley MP welcomes tough action on Suffolk metal theft

Tuesday, 10 April, 2012

David Ruffley MP welcomes tough new action by the Government against perpetrators of metal theft.

David Ruffley MP said: 'The growing problem of metal theft is very serious, both across Suffolk and nationally.

The Government's new plans will help tackle this disruptive crime. £5 million has been committed to a new national metal theft taskforce. Led by the British Transport Police, it will target both metal thieves and scrap metal dealers who trade in stolen goods and fuel the demand. It will develop intelligence, coordinate activity and target and disrupt criminal networks - both the thieves and the criminal market, including rogue elements of the scrap metal industry.

A new criminal offence banning cash payments to purchase scrap metal has been added to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill . 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.

Harsher penalties will mean increased fines for all found guilty for offences under the existing Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964, which regulates the scrap metal recycling industry.

From April this year the Environment Agency will be considering convictions linked with metal theft alongside other criteria when scrutinising the applications for an environmental permit to run a scrap metal yard.

Metal theft caused chaos to our railway systems and damage to buildings such as churches. It is vital that we send a clear message to the criminals committing these offences, and the scrap dealers who unethically buy this metal, that time is up for them.'