A Bill was put before Parliament that seeks to introduce a cashless system for scrap metal businesses.
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones put forward a Bill that includes a licensing scheme for scrap dealers, to enable magistrates’ courts to add restrictions to licences to deal in scrap metal, to require that financial transactions in trade in scrap metal be restricted to cashless payments and to give police officers powers to search properties owned by scrap metal dealerships.
In addition, the Bill would mean that scrap metal proven to have been obtained through theft may be classified as criminal assets, and introduce criminal charges for theft of scrap metal which takes into account aspects of the crime other than the value of the scrap metal stolen.
The Bill has cross-party support and passed its first reading. It will now be drafted with Government support in more detail, before a second reading on 20 January.
In his speech to bring the Bill before Parliament, Jones said: “Metal recycling is a valuable industry. It is a sustainable means of reusing an important and increasingly expensive commodity. However, the soft regulatory framework undermines that logic by encouraging thieves to take materials that are still in use. The problem lies precisely in the fact that it is stolen metal being recycled.
“My Bill will go some way to removing the incentives to steal created by weak regulation in the industry. This is not red tape – the intention is to reduce the costs to businesses and the public purse incurred through damage to the nation’s infrastructure. Such regulation would allow legitimate, law-abiding and socially responsible scrap metal dealers to flourish. Indeed, a few scrap metal dealers already perform much of the requirements of the Bill in best practice.
“Yesterday I met with representatives of SITA UK, a company that recently entered the metal recycling industry. They told me that they were shocked and appalled by the level of malpractice in the sector.
“The chief executive of SITA UK gave his full backing for the six elements of the Bill. So far, there has been no opposition from the affected industries to any of my six proposals. In fact, quite the reverse: they have received almost universal backing, with the concern now being that if we do not go far enough now, the problem will continue to escalate. The consensus in the industry is that the six measures in my Bill are vital if anything is to be done to stop the escalating crime.”