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Scrap metal cash ban 'within months'

The scrap metal cash ban could be in force within six months, the Government has revealed.

It said amendments to the Legal Aid Bill to outlaw cash payment for scrap metal, and increase maximum fines for trading stolen metal, were likely to be enacted this autumn.

In its response to a blueprint for tackling metal theft published by a panel of MPs in March, the Government also said it was looking to overhaul the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964.

But it ruled out providing more funding to tackle metal theft.

The House of Commons Transport Select Committee report, Cable theft on the railway, made seven recommendations for tackling the crime.

It called for the Government to provide powers for police officers to inspect both registered and unregistered scrap yards.

The Government response said: “Police entry powers will be revisited as part of any future review of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act.”

The Committee also urged the Government to provide extra resources beyond the £5m it has funnelled through the metal theft taskforce.

But the Government said: “Given the progress it is making with legislative measures… the Government does not consider at this stage that further funding is likely to be required to extend the scope or duration of the metal theft taskforce.”

The British Metals Recycling Association called for a more co-ordinated effort to tackle metal crime.

Director-general Ian Hetherington said: “We urgently need a joined-up approach on this issue. A cash ban needs to be part of a more thorough approach.

“The Government has already acknowledged the need to replace the Scrap Metal Dealers Act as soon as possible, as it currently allows large numbers of operators to operate outside the licensing and inspection regime.

“It’s now imperative that regulatory reforms are brought forward without delay and are implemented alongside a ban on cash in order for it to be effective in tackling metal theft while protecting legitimate businesses.”

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