Scores of dealers will be subject to licensing regulations under tough new measures to clamp down on metal thieves announced by the Justice Secretary.
Kenny MacAskill made the announcement as he joined British Transport Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland for the launch of their Cut Out Metal Theft campaign.
Metal dealers with a annual turnover of £1 million or less will require a licence. This raises the exemption limit from the current level of £100,000, which is not fit for purpose given the increase in value over recent year.
The Government is also likely to remove the exemption entirely to bring all dealers into the scheme and will work with the industry to ensure these plans are workable.
Reponses to a consultation into the licensing of metal dealers have been published on the Scottish Government’s website.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:
“The Scottish Government is taking tough steps to scrap metal theft. With the cost to the UK economy being put as high as £770 million, the status quo is untenable. The consultation responses confirm that there is an overwhelming case to ensure proper regulation, licensing and the highest possible standards of practice in the industry.
“We will take action on cash payments for metal to remove the attraction of easy ‘ready cash’ payments. Announcing a tenfold rise in the exemption warrant threshold will regulate hundreds of additional dealers. And we will ensure that all dealers are licensed, working with the industry to create a robust, workable scheme to do this.
“This would reduce the outlets for stolen metal and the incentive to steal. Licensing could also help ensure that better records are kept, CCTV cameras are installed and checks on customer identities are conducted.”
Chief Superintendent Ellie Bird, area commander for the Scotland area of British Transport Police and the chair of the ACPOS metal theft group said:
“I welcome the robust measures announced today by the Scottish Government. These will go a long way towards helping police forces clamp down on metal theft.
“The public should be assured that the police and our partner agencies are working closely to clamp down on these thieves and the unscrupulous metal dealers who continue to trade in stolen metal.
“We do however still need valuable assistance from the public and the campaign, which includes hard-hitting radio advertising, is designed to make them aware of the scale of an issue which continues to blight their communities and take their own action by reporting it.”