United Kingdom – The UK’s Â£5 billion (US$ 8.2 billion) metals recycling industry is calling for the robust enforcement of the new Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act 2013 in England and Wales.
Enforcement of the Act began on December 1 and, according to the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), ‘provides the opportunity for councils and the police to clamp down on illegal operators who undermine the industry’. The new Act will limit the potential outlets for stolen metal and expose unscrupulous dealers, it adds.
Ian Hetherington, director general of the BMRA, comments: ‘It is imperative that the new Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act is enforced with vigour. It will be a challenge for local authorities and police due to pressures on resources and a decline in the focus on metal theft. However, the BMRA will work closely with both the police and councils to ensure that it is implemented properly.’
Under the new Act, all site-based and mobile scrap dealers must: have a licence from their local authority; only buy scrap metal with a crossed cheque or electronic money transfer; and record the identity of anyone from whom they buy scrap metal. Breaking the law will result in higher penalties and it will be easier for police officers to enter and inspect unlicensed premises.
The enforcement date had been delayed from November 1 to enable central government and local authorities to provide finalised guidance for operators and licensing authorities, and to set detailed regulations for the new licensing system for scrap metal dealers.
The BMRA’s call for tough enforcement coincides with Home Office figures showing 61 000 metal theft offences recorded by police forces in England and Wales in the financial year ending March 2013. The statistics reveal a steady decline in offences with each quarter of 2012/13, with a 40% drop between April-June 2012 and January-March 2013.
Hetherington comments: ‘The Home Office figures demonstrate that co-ordinated and effective enforcement through initiatives such as the National Metal Theft Taskforce can be effective at reducing metal-related crime.’ It is therefore sad, he adds, that funding for the Taskforce will be withdrawn from March next year and it will be disbanded.