The director general of the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) has said that the organisation supports most of the measures in the new metal theft bill, but does not want to see a cashless system.
Ian Hetherington welcomed the debate on the issue included in this week’s Private Member’s Bill that has its first reading in Parliament this week and said the BMRA would continue to offer advice to the Government on the issue.
He added: “While most of the measures raised by MP Graham Jones at the first hearing of the Bill are supported by the industry, any suggestion that a ban on cash transactions would be accepted by the industry or that it would help the reduce the incidence of metal theft is wholly inaccurate.
“The proposal to ban small businesses and individuals from selling their old car, redundant washing machine or scrap pipework for cash seems draconian. It would have the effect of driving entirely legitimate cash business into the hands of non-compliant operators, bolstering the illegal sector and would fail to deter thieves from disposing of stolen metals.
“Until policing of these illegal operations is demonstrably improved, imposing such restrictions on legitimate metal recycling is untimely, unwelcome, and will not help to combat the issue of metal theft. It is important that the police and other authorities, such as the Environment Agency, have appropriate powers and are resourced to clamp down on the rash of unlicensed and illegal metal recyclers, who act as a magnet for stolen metals.”
The BMRA has unveiled its own proposals for changes to reduce metal theft and catch the criminals involved. These are:
– Reforming the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, including enhancing requirements for recording the ID of those selling scrap metal
– Overhauling the current system of licensing and permitting for scrap metal dealers, which currently sits across both local authorities and the Environment Agency, into a single system with resources allocated to effectively enforce it
– A clampdown on the large number of illegal metals recyclers operating in the
– Government to establish and support a National Metal Theft Intelligence Unit
– National policing guidelines which would put an end to a proliferation of well-meaning, short-lived local police initiatives that confuse the industry and encourage thieves to shift stolen material from area to area
– Strengthen the EA enforcement priorities and practices: Serial offenders must be held to account quicker.