Metal recyclers are maintaining their campaign for changes to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, arguing that its remit is not broad enough, insufficient resources are being used to enforce it and metal crime is increasing.
The British Metal Recycling Association (BMRA) says its members welcomed the Act when it was introduced in 2013 because it was believed the cash ban and enhanced ID checks would choke off outlets for stolen metal.
But chief executive Robert Fell, writing in a BMRA blog, says enforcement funding has been heavily cut.
“There is now no metal theft taskforce, few dedicated police officers and no appetite for going after yards openly paying cash for scrap metal, especially if that metal is not known to be stolen.”
He says an opportunity to tackle this resurgence in metal theft is available because the Home Office is reviewing the Act but enforcement is an issue “that no-one wants responsibility for”.
“Like a live hand grenade, responsibility is seemingly being tossed between the Home Office, local authorities and even the Environment Agency. We know there is appetite among the police to roll their sleeves up but not the funds to achieve it.
“Yet we remain convinced that those yards who are paying cash merit attention.
”They are more likely to accept stolen metal; be unlicensed and unpermitted; pay less heed to environmental regulations; have scant regard to the health and safety of employees and visitors; and be less than scrupulous when it comes to tax. For just a little time and effort, so many Government agencies would have a significant result on their hands.”
Fell and other BMRA officials have been meeting politicians during the parliamentary recess to try to persuade the authorities to take action. Fell is pictured (left) with Jesse Norman, Conservative MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire.