Unionist Roy Beggs introduces new scrap metal Bill that could increase traceability
Due to the significant levels of metal theft, Ulster Unionist politician Roy Beggs, introduced his Scrap Metal Dealers Bill in the Assembly this week.
Since metal theft has resulted in huge costs to local residents and businesses, the Bill is designed to increase the traceability of stolen metal received by scrap metal dealers.
The theft of metal from Greenisland Primary School and Downshire School cost the previous North-Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) more than £45,000 in nine months.
According to the East Antrim MLA, other thefts have put the public at risk.
“A major electricity sub-station at Ballyvallagh has been targeted twice, which could have resulted in wide spread blackouts in the Larne area.
"The theft of telecoms cable has prevented communication with emergency services and disruption to businesses and the theft of manhole covers has endangered drivers, pedestrians and children,” said the East Antrim MLA.
Churches, community halls and businesses in Larne and Carrickfergus have also suffered damage.
Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK that does not have a requirement for a Scrap Metal Dealers Licence, a licence that has certain restrictions and requirements for purchasing and delivering scrap metal.
The Private Members Bill is designed to prevent people from stealing metal by requiring traceability when the metal is sold.
A similar Bill, published by Independent TD Mattie McGrath in the Republic of Ireland, was rejected in 2012 by Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
The Bill called for gold and metal outlets to keep records of sales, which would include sellers providing photo ID and descriptions of the items in question, as well as calls for traders to hold gold and metal for 30 days before having it melted, to give gardai time to trace stolen property.
Mr Shatter rejected the Bill because he felt it would stretch police resources too far and fail to tackle criminal trading.