Call to ban cash transactions on metal sales

Last updated: 25/08/2011 12:03:51

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Agencies working together to clampdown on illegal scrap metal businesses in and around Walsall are planning to take their fight to the highest level.

A working group, set up to tackle the issue, has launched an e-petition calling on the Government to ban cash transactions for metal sales meaning transactions would need to be made by cheque or directly into a bank account effectively making it easier to trace stolen goods.

So far the e-petition has attracted over 5,500 signatures. If it reaches the 100,000 target by August 2012 the issue will be eligible for debate in the House of Commons. The e-petition can be found at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/406

The working group consists of representatives from various agencies including Walsall Council, Walsall Partnership, Walsall Police, whg and Benefits Agency together with local residents.

Due to a significant rise in value metal theft is on the increase both locally and nationally - there have been 1,125 metal thefts in the borough over the past year. Some scrap metal dealers are also becoming an increasing nuisance at household waste recycling centres where they wait outside in an attempt to intercept and remove metal items before they can be deposited in the correct disposal area.

Councillor Zahid Ali, Walsall Council cabinet member for communities and partnerships, said: "Historically the metal trade has been a cash in hand industry but this means it is very difficult to identify individuals who may be trading stolen metal as there is no audit trail.

"Walsall is no different to other parts of the country in that we have seen a significant increase in metal thefts and we are now saying enough is enough and are calling on people from across the country to back our call for a change in the law.

"The e-petition has only been up a short time but the response so far is encouraging and hopefully we will be able to get this issue debated at the highest level."

Operation Steel has been launched by the police in Walsall to tackle some of the issues. Days of action involve vehicles laden with metal being stopped and checked to ensure they are operating legally and have no stolen items.

In addition police and whg, alongside area partnerships, have been marking metal and lead at houses and businesses across the borough with Smartwater. If stolen it means the metal can be traced back to the premises it came from originally.

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