Freight forwarders, who handle freight logistics, could be caught up in illegal scrap metal exports as metal thieves change tactics to adapt to the cash ban, a trade body claims.
The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has warned its members that the clampdown on metal theft, including the ban on cash payments, is likely to lead to an increase in illegal scrap exports.
It said the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) had issued a warning about suspicious locations for the collection of filled shipping containers, such as brownfield sites, farms and residential addresses.
BIFA director general, Peter Quantrill, said he was concerned freight forwards could become “innocent accomplices” of illegal exporters.
He said politicians may have inadvertently shifted the problem of metal theft onto the freight transport supply chain, and encouraged members to report suspicious container locations to SOCA or the British Transport Police.
MRW reported previously on law enforcement preparations to deal with increased illegal exports in the wake of scrap metal reform, and MP Graham Jones who has been a leading campaigner for scrap trade reform, has warned the current legislation would not tackle stolen metal packaged in containers.
“What some of the more devious and able thieves will do is use containerisation for export through the ports,” Jones told MRW in June 2012, claiming that containers for export are not being sufficiently inspected by the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
Jones said: “The UKBA and the Home Office cannot say how many containers [of scrap] have been exported. They claim they take an intelligence-led approach, but very few containers for export are ever X-rayed or inspected.”
He said this issue was more about Home Office resources than legislation, and the Government needed to take a more holistic approach.
A spokesperson for the Border Force responded to Jones: “We work closely with SOCA and police forces to help combat crime at the border. Where there is reason to suspect that goods for export may be stolen, Border Force officers can stop the goods leaving and refer the matter to the police for them to take any necessary further action.”