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Metal theft: UK government accused of taking ‘path of least resistance’

United Kingdom – The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) is ‘extremely disappointed’ that, following a review, the UK government ‘has chosen not to strengthen the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 (SMDA) or fund its proper enforcement’. The organisation has expressed particular dismay at the decision not to allocate funds for the re-establishment of the Metal Theft Taskforce – despite ‘rising incidents of metal theft’.

The government has taken ‘the path of least resistance, thereby ignoring the pleas by the many victims of crime to strengthen the Act’, the BMRA complains.

The trade body had called for: disincentives to receive cash payments by creating a new offence of receiving cash for scrap metal; expanded police powers to inspect itinerant collectors, more specifically giving them the power to inspect vehicles used for the purpose of carrying on business as a mobile collector; and a more rigorous local authority licensing regime, to include a harmonised renewals procedure, an improved application process and strengthened data provision requirements for local authorities.

The BMRA insists it will ‘gladly’ take up the government’s offer to help identify ‘what can be done within the existing legislation to address the serious shortcomings of the SMDA’.

The government, however, ‘is satisfied that the SMDA provides a strong legislative foundation for addressing metal theft by removing the opportunities for criminals to dispose of stolen metal through scrap metal sites’.

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