Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (357)

James Browne

Question:

357. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the stage of legislation promised by his predecessor regulating the sale for cash of scrap and precious metals; the steps he will take to deal with the growth in the theft of catalytic converters from cars; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45188/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 provides for offences of theft (which would, based on the broad nature of the offence, include ‘scrap metal’ and ‘catalytic converter’ theft), handling of stolen property and possession of stolen property. Maximum sentences of 10 years are provided for in the case of offences of theft and handling of stolen property; while maximum sentences of 5 years are provided for the offence of possession of stolen property.

Irish law relating to the sale and purchase of scrap metal is a matter for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and arises under the Waste Management Act 1996. The Waste Management (Facility Permit and Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI No 320 of 2014) apply to the sale and purchase of scrap metals and were designed to improve the traceability of such scrap metal sales. The regulations impose an obligation on businesses to apply due diligence measures to ensure the traceability of any waste purchased.

My Department is currently drafting a Bill in relation to the purchase of precious metals by registered outlets from the public. The Bill will create a licensing system for any dealers in ‘cash for gold’ or other precious metals and will require verification of the identity and so on of those selling precious metals second hand. Breaches of the requirements under the Bill will be a criminal offence. It is also intended that the Bill will also provide additional powers to An Garda Síochána in respect of premises where ‘cash for gold’ transactions take place.

Officials from my Department are also actively involved in the Metal Theft Forum, which is a collaborative working group between State stakeholders and industry representatives to improve information sharing around the issue of metal theft. The Forum is chaired by An Garda Síochána and includes representatives from my Department, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the EPA, An Post and a wide range of non-State representatives including telecoms companies, the ESB and others.