After it was named as the industry that has suffered the fastest growth in metal theft crimes, the Scottish construction sector is set to welcome changes to legislation aimed at tackling the problem.

Despite a recent reduction in cases, the crime continues to harm Scottish businesses and communities, with 417 metal related crimes reported between April to July resulting in close to a £600,000 estimated repair cost.

Authorities including British Transport Police (BTP), Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), Police Scotland, Scottish Government, and Trading Standards will enforce the changes to law, which came into effect on September 1, banning the use of cash when buying or selling scrap metals.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, said: “While most scrap dealers are law-abiding businesses, metal theft remains a severe problem in Scotland and so required us to put in place more effective regulation to make it harder for thieves to dispose of stolen metal. That is why we legislated through the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015, to tighten up controls on the metal dealer licensing regime.

“The changes now in force will raise standards within the industry – providing greater traceability and increasing penalties for offences, and representing a significant step up in the battle against metal theft.”

Metal Theft Lead for the SBRC, Jim Scott, welcomes the changes to law and believes it will drastically improve transparency within the wider scrap metal industry.

He said: “The reality of this criminal activity is that communities are acutely affected – whether through power outages from stolen copper at substations, disruption of rail journeys, or by costly damage to properties with lead stolen from roofing.

“By removing the incentive of cash trading, any scrap metal transactions will be fully traceable and we expect this to deter unscrupulous individuals from carrying out metal theft.

“This will be the culmination of over three years work with various partners including the main utility companies that were the victims of metal theft.

“The SBRC will continue to work with its partners to assist the industry through this substantial change and also to ensure that any dealers that revert to paying cash are identified and dealt with through the proper channels.”

Robert Fell, chief executive, British Metals Recycling Association, said: “As the trade body for many scrap metal yards in Scotland, we welcome the cash ban and the enhanced identification requirements.

“We stand ready to support our colleagues in local authorities, BTP and Police Scotland as they enforce the Act from 01 September onwards. However, we would stress that to be truly effective, on-going enforcement will be crucial and we therefore seek assurance that the Act will continue to be a priority once the initial funding for Operation Scandium ends next year.”

Via Builder and Engineer. View original article here.