December 2017 saw disappointment for the British Metals Recycling Association as the Home Office took the decision to leave the Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act unaltered.
Introduced in 2013 as a response to increasing occurrences of metal theft between 2009 and 2011, the Act brought in strict licensing requirements for scrap metal dealers, identity checks for those selling scrap metal and making it an offence for dealers to purchase scrap metal for cash.
Despite a Home Office review of the SMDA stating that thefts have dropped from nearly 62,000 a year in 2012/13 to around 16,000 in 2015/16, the BMRA strongly contests that metal theft is declining, pointing to the latest property crime data from the Office of National Statistics for 2016-17. This data reveals that metal theft increased in the last quarter of the year, in response to soaring metal prices.
The BMRA said it is “extremely disappointed” by the Home Office announcement. The organisation says it is further dismayed that, despite the rising incidents of metal theft, they have chosen not to allocate funds to enforce the Act through the reestablishment of the Metal Theft Taskforce.
So what next?
The BMRA has warned that: “Having ignored these requests for the Act to be amended, and those made by other key stakeholders, the Home Office must be prepared to be held accountable for soaring metal theft figures, and any resulting injuries to members of the public.”
The BMRA’s statement goes on to say that they will gladly take up the Home Office’s offer to help it identify what can be done within the existing legislation to address the serious shortcomings of the SMDA 2013.