I am informed that An Garda Síochána is very much aware of the increase in the theft of metal and is targeting such crime, and burglaries and theft related crimes generally, through a number of policing initiatives.
The Garda response is also informed by its work with the metal theft forum which draws together a range of key stakeholders affected by this sort of crime. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the drafting of a Metal Theft Crime Prevention and Reduction Plan is at an advanced stage and that this work is proceeding in consultation with the stakeholders represented on the metal theft forum. I look forward to the outcome of this process and will study any Garda recommendations concerning regulation, in conjunction with all stakeholders and relevant Departments.
Consideration of such recommendations will also need to have regard to the issues arising from the report on the Cash for Gold trade which was prepared by my Department. I have requested the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence to consider the content of that report and that it consider holding hearings on the issues raised and obtains the views of all relevant interested parties.
In addition, I can also inform the Deputy that my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government is examining waste licensing and permitting legislation to ensure all necessary provisions are in place to avoid situations that might be exploited by criminals. In this regard I understand that draft regulations are in preparation in consultation with relevant stakeholders.
The Garda operational response is ongoing and taking place in parallel to the formal development of the Metal Theft Crime Prevention and Reduction plan. I am informed that the plan is expected to be available shortly. I am confident that the Gardaí are doing everything they can to progress this complex matter, in consultation with the other stakeholders, so as to ensure a properly considered and strategic response.