Local authorities are putting legitimate scrap dealers’s business in jeopardy because many are failing to issue licences six months after new legislation came into force, according to the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA).
On 1 October 2013, the Scrap Metal Dealers Act introduced a mandatory licensing regime for both mobile and site-based scrap dealers to prevent criminal activity in the sector. The full enforcement date was 1 December 2013.
But the BMRA has called on local authorities to process licences more quickly because delayed licensing is limiting the ability of authorities and police to impose the new regime.
The BMRA said “a considerable number” of scrap metal dealers are without a licence despite submitting their applications before the 15 October deadline.
This is causing a loss of business for legitimate traders as many customers will only deal with licensed operators, according to the BMRA.
For example, in December MRW reported that businesses and residents in Oxford had been told to check scrap metal dealers were licensed even though two councils in the county had yet to issue any licences.
Ian Hetherington, BMRA director general said: “It is imperative that councils struggling with scrap metal dealer licences are given the adequate support to process them as quickly as possible. If not, legitimate traders may be put out of business as they are now required to possess a licence to operate legally.
“Enforcing the new legislation is a challenge for local authorities and police due to declining budgets and resources. However, the licences are self-financing so sufficient resources must be allocated.
“Otherwise the new system only increases the administrative burden for law-abiding dealers while illegal operators go unpunished and undermine the industry.”
Hetherington also said he was concerned with the withdrawal of funding for the National Metal Theft Taskforce.
MRW reported that Peers in the House of Lords called for reassurance from the Home Office that the Taskforce would continue to receive financial backing after it emerged that it had saved £339m by protecting national infrastructure, while costing just £5.5m to fund.
Hetherington added: “Home Offices figures, which show a decline in metal theft offences across England and Wales in 2012/13, prove that co-ordinated enforcement is effective in reducing metal related crime.
“If the new Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act is not enforced properly then metal theft will increase in the long term and the police will be overwhelmed.”