SCRAP metal dealers are to be banned from making cash payments in a drive to stamp out an “epidemic” of theft.
The Government said those dealing in stolen metal were “bringing misery” to communities with churches and railways among the victims. Fines under the existing Scrap Metal Dealers Act will also be increased.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “This Government will do what it takes to protect the public, business and our national heritage from the scourge of metal theft.”
But Labour said the measures do not go far enough. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Banning cash payments could mean some illegal yards continue the practice, yet the police don’t have the power to close them down.”
The Commons Transport Select Committee has called for urgent action to counter the growing problem of cable theft, which is now seen as second only to terrorism by the British Transport Police.