United Kingdom – The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 (SMDA) introduced sweeping regulatory changes in a bid to reduce metal theft across England and Wales, including a ban on cash payments for scrap, seller identification verification, enhanced record-keeping and a new licensing regime. However, the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) has called for an amendment to incorporate a new offence of receiving cash for scrap.
Responding to a government review of the SMDA, the BMRA argues: ‘Holders of legitimately-sourced metal who are seeking cash would be greatly deterred if it were also an explicit offence to receive cash for their scrap. Reducing the overall number of people seeking cash for lawfully-sourced metal would allow the police to focus on those wishing to dispose of stolen material.’
The BMRA also calls for: expanded police powers to inspect itinerant collectors; a more rigorous local authority licensing regime to ensure transparency and consistency; and implementation of reverse-charge VAT to ‘serve as a deterrent to metal dealers paying cash and/or under-declaring on their VAT returns’.
The association expresses concern that the cutting of SMDA enforcement funding has been followed by ‘a reported upsurge in the use of cash payments in scrap metal transactions’. There are also signs that the recent gains in metals prices are ‘contributing to an increase in metal theft’.