The scrap metal industry has called for strong enforcement of the new scrap metal laws, as there are signs of unrest at some local merchants.
Since 1 October merchants have been able to use temporary licences, which gave local authorities time to process applications and fully implement the legislative changes brought about by the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013. From 1 December dealers will require a full licence in order to trade.
With the date approaching, the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) said the scrap industry wanted the new laws to be “robustly” enforced.
The BMRA said councils and the police have been given the power to clamp down on illegal operators who undermine the industry.
Director general Ian Hetherington said: “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.”
But there have also been early rumblings of discontent within some sections of the industry.
Between 7-11 October, over 100 police visited scrap metal dealers and motor salvage operators across Greater Manchester to crack down on the use of cash payments. They stopped over 200 vehicles during the week, 14 of which were seized, and identified 78 offences resulting in five arrests and over £10,500 in fines.
Jake Packun, co-owner of the Autosave scrap yard, told MRW the operation has resulted in his business receiving 10 fewer regular customers than usual every day.
He added: “We’ve seen a definite decline in customers. Legitimate businesses are massively affected.”
Greater Manchester Police said the initiative was part of the ongoing Operation Alloy, which has resulted in a 70% drop in metal theft in the region over three years.
Another possible effect of the metal crime crackdown has been a rise in stone thefts in East Lancashire. There were 35 incidents in the last month, according to local news reports.
A neighbourhood policing sergeant, Stuart Banks, told the Lancashire Telegraph he believed the stealing of stone flags and coping stones was the “new scrap metal theft” because the new legislation made it harder to steal metal.
Details of the new act can be found here.