The government is investigating ways to combat the export of stolen scrap, and has confirmed that funding for the National Metal Theft Task Force will end in September.
Answering a Parliamentary question about the Home Office’s advice to police forces working with the UK Border Force, crime prevention minister Norman Baker said that no guidance regarding stolen scrap had yet been issued.
“However, work is underway in UK Border Force and other law enforcement organisations to tackle this problem, including the better profiling and identification of containers that may contain stolen metal,” he said. “They are also looking at whether there are technological solutions that can be used to better secure our borders.”
In relation to a question about ongoing strategies to combat scrap metal theft, Baker said that the Home Office would continue to contribute to funding of the National Metal Theft Taskforce only until September this year.
“The decision to provide funding until that date ensures the Taskforce operates concurrently with the first year of the new licensing scheme under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013,” said Baker.” After that date, future enforcement activity will become the responsibility of individual police forces based on their local crime priorities. It was never the intention that the Taskforce would continue indefinitely.”
The Taskforce was set up in 2011 to focus on scrap metal crime and oversee the implementation of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 (SMDA), which enforced a mandatory licensing regime for all scrap dealers.
In January, Lord Faulkner of Worcester highlighted the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) report that the Taskforce, which cost £5.5m to fund, had saved £339m.
There has also been a suggestion that a drop in scrap crime could be more related to changes in its value.
Ian Hetherington, director general of the British Metal Reyclers Association welcomed moves to tackle export of stolen scrap: “It’s clear export of stolen scrap goes on, but it’s not clear how much. It’s a difficult one, as the border agency will not necessarily be focussed on that issue. But we welcome any measures to help police it.”