Lanarkshire worst for metal crime

Lanarkshire has been revealed as the Police Scotland division with the highest numbers of metal theft-related crimes.

Police have been making sure dealers know about the change in the law.

The news comes as agencies herald new legislation aimed at tackling the problem and its impact across Scotland.

With effect from September 1, the use of cash when buying or selling scrap metals is banned.

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There were 417 metal-related crimes reported between April and July this year, resulting in a near-£600,000 estimated repair cost. A total of 75 cases took place in Lanarkshire.

MSP Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, said: “While most scrap dealers are law-abiding businesses, metal theft remains a severe problem in Scotland and so required more effective regulation to make it harder for thieves to dispose of stolen metal.

“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.”

Jim Scott, of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, welcomed the changes, saying: “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.”

Chief Superintendent John McBride of British Transport Police said: “Despite a decrease in reported offences, metal theft still incurs a significant cost to the Scottish economy and continues to disrupt and inconvenience our communities.

“By removing cash transactions from the metal industry and having more robust identification processes in place, this new legislation will make it more difficult for those involved in such criminality to dispose of stolen goods.”