The Scottish Government is taking serious steps to tackle the growing problem of metal theft, the Justice Secretary has announced.

Kenny MacAskill has launched a consultation to improve standards in the industry by expanding the metal dealers licensing scheme.

It proposes bringing the vast majority of businesses into the licensing regime by requiring all dealers with a turnover of less than £10 million to be licensed. The current figure is £100,000.

A significant rise in the value of scrap metal has led to an escalation of metal theft in recent years. It has an impact on sectors such as the rail industry and utility companies as well as communities.

The cost to the UK economy has been estimated at £220 - £260 million in a recent report for the Association of Chief Police Officers.

The consultation closes on 29th February 2012.