THE draft Metal Theft (Prevention) Bill before Parliament makes no distinction between those dealing in general scrap and the trade in scrap precious metal.

Sponsoring MP Graham Jones told ATG back in November that his priority in putting the Bill forward was to prevent crime and uphold the law, and that a decision on whether dealers buying scrap gold, silver and platinum would be included had yet to be taken but would be discussed.

It is not clear whether such discussions have taken place.

Although the focus has been very much on thefts of cable from the railways and bronze plaques from war memorials, the wording in the draft legislation refers only to scrap metal dealers, making no distinction between breakers' yards and jewellery shops.

The central plank of the legislation, which is due for its second reading in the House of Commons within the next couple of months, is a ban on cash transactions involving scrap metal in the hope that the resulting paper trail would act as a deterrent to thieves. Dealers would have to keep full records of transactions for four years under the proposals.

Those found to have breached the law would forfeit all their holdings of scrap metal and be disqualified from dealing in it. Punishments, depending on the type of offence, would encompass fines and/or jail terms of up to five years.