Scotland to legislate against metal theft

Firm resistance to metal theft will continue over the next 12 months as the Scottish Parliament has set out plans to legislate against thieves and dodgy scrap metal dealers as part of its programme for the next Parliament.

According to their plans, announced on Tuesday (3 September), the Licensing Bill will, "give authorities additional powers to help tackle metal theft, reducing the disruption and financial costs this crime causes to our infrastructure, businesses and public services." Its intention is to "improve the licensing of scrap metal dealers to ensure greater regulation of the industry and ultimately reduce metal theft".

Current legislation was tightened in Scotland following the campaign to bring in new laws in England and Wales and the growing scale of the problem across the country. These have helped improve aspects of record keeping for official metal recyclers and itinerant metal collectors.

In its April consultation, the Scottish Government set out principles of legislation including the removal of exemptions from some dealers, standards of record keeping, ID confirmation and potentially the use of CCTV. It is likely that discretionary powers, including the use of CCTV would be left to local authorities to apply as they consider necessary.

While thieves continue to put lives at risk, not only their own and those of their accomplices but innocent members of the public too, and while their actions threaten the essential day-to-day services of transport, telecommunications and energy, there will always be a strong call for tough new laws to protect society from this dangerous and destructive crime.

Energy Networks Association is organising the first Scottish Metal Theft Summit in the Scottish Parliament on 31 October at which victims of the crime will put forward their experiences and desires for new legislation and also hear from Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill MSP. The event is hosted by Stuart McMillan MSP who has led a campaign in Scotland for new laws over recent years.

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