The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) has announced it shares Labour MP David Hanson’s concerns that the Scrap Metal Dealers Act (SMDA) is weakening in the face of a positive market environment.
BMRA said it has repeatedly petitioned Government throughout 2017 to take action to combat the “steadily rising incidents of metal theft and to tackle the increasing number of operators openly paying cash for scrap metal.”
In order to do this, BMRA said it has lobbied for the reinstatement of the Metal Theft Taskforce.
“We believe that operators who are willing to break the law and openly pay cash for scrap metal are, by default, more likely to accept stolen metal. If Government was to reinstate the Metal Theft Taskforce, and use it to tackle cash-paying operators, it would quickly reduce the number of disposal outlets for stolen material,” said Robert Fell, chief executive of BMRA.
“When we share our concerns about the number of cash-paying operators, we have been told that it is a matter of enforcement by police services and local authorities. Yet, with police and local authority budgets being cut, the inference is that the issue of cash payment is a ‘victimless’ crime and therefore an issue that is of lesser importance when it comes to allocating budget.”
As a result, in its response to the Home Office’s Review of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, the Association called for the Act to be strengthened in several ways, including making it an equivalent summary offence to receive cash for scrap metal not just to pay cash, and bringing greater rigour to local authority’s role in regulating scrap metal dealers.
“If Government was to reinstate the Metal Theft Taskforce, and use it to tackle cash-paying operators, it would quickly reduce the number of disposal outlets for stolen material.”
The Scrap Metal Dealers Act came into effect in late 2013, and outlawed the payment of cash for scrap metal by recyclers. The law also requires every scrap metal dealer responsible for obtaining a licence to trade from their local authority.
BMRA said it is ‘keenly awaiting’ the publication of the Home Office’s findings of the review of the Act. BMRA hopes that it will reflect the concerns which it said are shared by the Association and the other 50+ respondents, including the many victims of metal theft.
But, in July 2017, the National Crime Agency (see letsrecycle.com story) said in its annual review of crime that the amount of metal theft “continues to decline”.