The ban on paying for scrap metal with cash, which comes into force across England and Wales today, spells the end of the line for scrap metal thieves, police have said.
Speaking as scrap dealers began the first day of trading under the new regime, British Transport Police (BTP) deputy chief constable Paul Crowther, who leads on metal theft for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the new rules, which include significantly increased fines, would “seriously curtail the market for stolen metal”.
“There will now be a clear audit trail back to those bringing commodities into recycling yards and severe sanctions for those who step out of line” he added.
The new rules, introduced by MPs as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act, also prohibit payments by postal order, gift voucher, mobile phone credit and foreign currency, introduce stricter requirements to record payments and seller details, and give greater powers to the police to enter yards.
Crowther said: “The step forward in legislation is welcome and significant, but will not work in isolation. Industry, police and other agencies must continue to work together to enforce the new legislation, support further modernisation of the law and take action against those criminals who continue to target the very infrastructure we have all come to rely upon.”
A Government-backed bill to rewrite the Scrap Metal Dealers Act is currently before the House of Lords. The bill, led by Tory MP Richard Ottaway, would introduce compulsory council-administered licensing for all scrap dealers, and could become law by next spring.
Detective superintendent John McBride, who heads the national metal theft taskforce for the British Transport Police (BTP), told MRW there would be police operations taking place supporting the introduction of the cash ban.