The National Metal Theft Task Force has assured scrap metal merchants they will not be penalised if they can show they have applied for a licence.
MRW reported that councils were struggling to issue licences under the new scrap laws. Dealers had until 15 October to apply to their council in order to qualify for a transitional licence, to meet a deadline of 1 December.
The taskforce co-ordinated a ‘day of action’ directly after the laws came into effect, leaving some scrap dealers worried they had been left without a licence.
But Detective superintendent Alison Evans (left), taskforce co-ordinator, told MRW: “Whilst it is true some local authorities have encountered difficulties in completing the registration process during the transition period, any applicants who have applied but not had a licence issued as yet will have been issued with a receipt for their application which can be checked.”
Evans said officers were in close contact with local authorities to target traders who had not made any attempt to register. Officers have also been visiting sites and mobile collectors to raise awareness of the scrap industry’s new obligations.
She said: “Our direction has always been that we should not be persecuting those who wish to comply with their legal obligations but to target our energies on those who are choosing not to comply, as per the activity undertaken on the last day of action on 3 December.”
Newham Council told MRW it had received 13 applications for a site licence and 17 applications for a collector’s licence.
A spokesperson said: “The applications are being processed and the information provided verified. Those who have applied have been contacted to say that during this transitional period, they are deemed to have a licence while their applications are processed.
“We want to work with good scrap metal operators. These new powers give us the ability to target the unscrupulous dealers and weed out the rogues who operate without a licence. They have no place in Newham.”