15 December 2011: Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to establish a nationwide task force to target metal thieves.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): My Lords, the Government recognise the growing problem of metal theft and are taking urgent steps to address it. Five million pounds has been provided to establish a dedicated national task force to significantly increase enforcement activity to deal with both scrap metal dealers who trade in stolen metal and those who steal metal.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, that is fine as far as it goes but does the Minister agree with what his Home Office colleague James Brokenshire said in the other place on Monday? Mr Brokenshire estimated that the cost of metal theft may be now as much as £777 million a year and said,
"we have now reached the stage where the only conclusion is that new legislation is needed to tackle metal theft".-[Official Report, Commons, 12/12/11; col. 508.]
As a vital first step, will the Minister accept my amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which would make cash transactions for scrap metal sales illegal, bearing in mind that probably as much as £1 billion out of the £5 billion in this industry is accounted for in cash and is the cause of most of the problems?