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Government drafting legislation to regulate cash for gold shops

There was concern when these shops first opened in Ireland that they were being used by burglars to offload stolen jewellery.

THE GOVERNMENT IS currently drafting a bill to regulate the cash for gold trade in Ireland.

In response to a recent parliamentary question from Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said his department is currently drafting a bill in relation to this industry. 

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 of those selling items second-hand. It will also give additional powers to gardaí.

There was public concern when these shops first came on the scene in Ireland that they were being used by burglars to offload stolen jewellery.

In 2012, then Justice Minister Alan Shatter ordered a report into the industry. This report noted an increase in burglaries over the previous two years, which coincided with a dramatic rise in the price of gold and the increased proliferation of cash for gold shops across the country. 

Burglaries were up by almost 8% in 2011 compared to 2010, after dropping in previous years. Shatter said at the time that it was “inconsistent that there are specific rules and regulations that apply to pawnbrokers for the protection of the public and to assist the Gardaí and that similar appropriate and adapted rules and regulations do not apply to cash for gold outlets.

Three years later the government launched a consultation of the cash for gold trade in 2015. Just six submissions were received and many had common proposals for introducing safeguards to prevent stolen items of jewellery being sold to businesses trading in precious metal and stones.

A commitment to introducing laws that would regulate the industry was included in the 2016 programme for government and last year Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he was considering a second round of public consultation before finalising proposals. 

In his recent response, Minister Flanagan said no further formal public consultation has been planned. He said the 2015 consultation was “a valuable contribution” to the work within his department regarding the trade. 

He said officials from his department also met with relevant parties, including An Garda Síochána and other government departments and stakeholders, during 2018 to allow them to input their views on the issue.

When the 2012 report was published, it noted that there were 124 cash for gold shops in Ireland. When asked for the current number, Minister Flanagan said his department does not maintain a record of the number of cash for gold shops in Ireland. 

“I can confirm to the deputy that my department is currently drafting a bill in relation to the purchase of precious metals by registered outlets from the public,” Flanagan said. 

It is intended that breaches of the requirements for set out in the bill will be a criminal offence. The bill will also provide additional powers to An Garda Síochána in respect of premises where cash for gold transactions take place.

“While no further formal consultation has yet been planned, the department will be publishing the general scheme of the bill on its website, following approval of the government,” Flanagan said.

“As with any bill, interested parties will be able to submit views once the general scheme has been made publicly available.”

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