NEW legislation which will target metal thieves is set to come into force within weeks.
The news has been welcomed by Isle MP Andrew Percy after the Government announced it was going to change the law on scrap metal sales.
Mr Percy has lead a local campaign which has seen him raise the issue with the Prime Minister, Home Office and he also organised a recent metal theft summit in Scunthorpe.
In recent years a number of Isle churches has become the victims of lead thieves who have stripped roofs, including St Andrew’s Church in Epworth, St Martin’s in Owston Ferry and All Saints’ Church, Misterton.
But the Home Secretary has now announced the Government will amend the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, currently working its way through Parliament.
The amendments will create a new criminal offence prohibiting cash sales for scrap metal whilst also significantly increasing fines for breaching the Scrap Metal Dealers Act.
Mr Percy said: “This has been a long campaign and I am therefore delighted that the Government has listened to us and will act.
“Currently, scrap metal transactions are often completed in cash without any proof of ID or that the person owns the metal.
“The move to a cashless system will end these sorts of transactions and provide a proper audit trail of who is selling scrap metal and in what quantities.
“Locally, we have seen a big growth in scrap metal thefts as the price of scrap metal has soared. This has meant communities have seen their telephones, internet and electricity all too often cut off by thoughtless criminals stealing cables.
“We now know that within the next few weeks the law will also be changed to make it harder for thieves to dispose of their stolen metal.
“We will never be able to stamp this crime out in full but the move to a cashless based system closes one of the loopholes presently in the system.”