Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Monday, 12 December 2011

Government plans legislation to tackle metal theft

The government will bring forward legislation to tackle the growing problem of metal theft, Home Office Minister James Brokenshire has told MPs.

Raising the matter at Home Office questions on 12 December 2011 Conservative MP Craig Whittaker asked the minister if he agreed that "the time has now come for legislation to clamp down on rogue metal dealers".

Mr Brokenshire replied: "The government does not legislate lightly and has undertaken a range of work to tackle metal theft through non-legislative means.

"However, we have now reached the stage where the only conclusion is that new legislation is needed to tackle metal theft."

He added that the Home Office was in discussion with other government departments to agree on the most appropriate option to bring forward these changes.

Conservative MP Adam Holloway wondered if there was "any argument for seizing the entire infantry of metal dealers found to be purchasing stolen goods?"

And his party colleague, Nadine Dorries, suggested it was time to change the law governing the scrap metal industry.

Mr Brokenshire said the existing 1964 Scrap Metal Dealers Act was "no longer fit for purpose" and needed to be revised, but stressed the need to combine that with further enforcement and better intelligence.

He said the government was working with the Association of Chief Police Offices (Acpo) to create a new task force "to better inform intelligence and ensure those responsible for these crimes are brought to justice".

But Labour's Ian Austin accused the government of taking too long to bring forward legislation.

The minister responded that the government was moving quickly, focusing on regulation of the scrap metal industry and stronger enforcement powers to bring those carrying out the crimes to justice.

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