SNP promises meltdown of scrap metal thieves

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by a Newsnet reporter

An SNP MSP has welcomed news that laws for metal dealers will be tightened.  Stuart McMillan SNP MSP for West Scotland wrote to Kenny MacAskill about the increasing number of thefts from railway lines in his constituency.

The metals which are most commonly the target of thieves are copper, aluminium, brass and bronze.  Scrap metal prices have soared in recent years, with the price of scrap copper trebling.

by a Newsnet reporter

An SNP MSP has welcomed news that laws for metal dealers will be tightened.  Stuart McMillan SNP MSP for West Scotland wrote to Kenny MacAskill about the increasing number of thefts from railway lines in his constituency.

The metals which are most commonly the target of thieves are copper, aluminium, brass and bronze.  Scrap metal prices have soared in recent years, with the price of scrap copper trebling.

Recently, the War Memorials Trust estimated that at least one war memorial in the UK is being targeted by thieves every week due to the rising price of scrap bronze and copper.  The thieves typically steal the bronze plaques listing the dead.  Railway signalling cable has also become a favourite target, leading the risk of a serious accident due to signal malfunction and delays to services until repairs can be effected.

In his reply to Mr McMillan the Justice Secretary said the licensing regime would be toughened to bring more metal dealers into the scope of licensing rules.  

Under current regulations, scrap metal dealers must apply for a licence from their local authority in order to trade.  However if the dealer has an audited turnover of scrap metal exceeding £100,000 in the 18 months’ prior to application, an exemption warrant can be sought.  Mr MacAskill believes that this amount is far too low, given the recent price increases in scrap metals, and should be “increased substantially”.  

Mr MacAskill said that this measure could be introduced through secondary legislation, but a consultation would be required.  He added that he had instructed his officials to take the measure forward “urgently”.

In addition, Mr MacAskill said that the Scottish Government was closely studying the recent proposals to alter scrap metal licensing arrangements in England and Wales.  The proposed English and Welsh legislation would abolish cash transactions for scrap metals, making sellers easier to trace, and would replace the current registration system with a new system of licences.

Stuart McMillan, SNP MSP for West Scotland, said:

“This is very welcome action from the Scottish Government which I hope will curb the disgraceful increase in metal thefts which has become a growing problem.

“Tightening of these laws will properly bring more metal dealers into the scope of licensing rules.

“I am pleased at the way the SNP Government has committed to tackling this problem.  I welcome the Justice Secretary’s determination to bring nearly all metal dealers into the scope of licensing by dramatically increasing the level of turnover required for exemptions.

“This commitment is particularly welcome at a time when the War Memorials Trust said monuments are increasingly being targeted for metal.

“This issue was originally brought to my attention by constituents who were concerned with delays in train travel – being caused by rail line thefts.

“The current legislation has clearly not deterred thefts and something must be done to get a solution that targets this crime, which is why I welcome the Scottish Government’s plans for secondary legislation in this area beginning with a consultation.”