New laws on trading in scrap metal were passed today and will come into force later this year in a bid to cut back on sharp increases in criminal trading.

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act will build on measures which have already been taken to clamp down on illegal trading, such as the ban on cash transactions at scrap yards introduced last December.

The Act will introduce licensing for all traders and allow councils or the police to revoke licences and recover the cost of investigation and action against rogue traders.

It will insist that all metal sellers show identification, and that records of transactions with them are kept for at least two years. A national register of licensed traders will also be created, while the ban on cash transactions is extended to mobile traders going door-to-door.

Magistrates will also be given the power to impose unlimited fines on those flouting the ban on cash transactions, operating without a licence or breaching licence conditions.

The Home Office says there are around 1000 metal thefts a week, with the illegal trade in scrap costing the UK economy an estimated £220 million a year.

Exhausts often fall victim for their high content of precious metals, but First Line also told CAT it had to be on their guard when building their new Banbury warehouse. Criminals have no hesitation in lifting railway tracks, cutting power to hospitals or targeting war memorials, either.

Richard Ottaway MP, who tabled the original bill for the Act, said: “It is particularly fitting, therefore, that this law has come in on the eve of the centenary of the First World War.”

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