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Metal Theft

Volume 542: debated on Tuesday 13 March 2012

21. What assessment he has made of the deterrent effect of sentencing on the incidence of metal theft. (99277)

We have not concluded a specific study on the deterrent effect of sentencing on the incidence of metal theft, but on Report in the other place we will table amendments to the Legal Aid, Punishment and Sentencing of Offenders Bill which would see unlimited fines for the more serious metal-dealing offences and raise the maximum penalty for more minor offences from level 1 to level 3. We also propose to prohibit cash payments for scrap metal.

I hope that the Minister is aware of the intensive campaign being run by Nottinghamshire trading standards and Nottinghamshire police to clamp down on metal theft, but can he reassure the House that he will take steps to ensure that the sentencing of those who deal in stolen metal is severe enough to put them off and reduce the market?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the advice on Nottinghamshire. I confess that I was not aware of that work, although I am aware of very good practice in the north-east, for example, and elsewhere in the country. But, of course, we do not propose those changes to the sentencing regime for that offence except to send a very clear message that it is an offence that can do very serious damage indeed.