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Scrap Metal Dealers Act Under Review – Lack of Enforcement

Implemented in 2013, the Scrap Metal Dealers Act (SMDA) was brought in with a view to eradicate unlicensed metal trading with a cash ban and enhanced ID checks. Seemingly, the SMDA worked: between 2012 and 2016, metal theft in the UK decreased by 74%. More specifically, there were 44,885 unique incidents of metal theft between 2012 and 2013 in the UK, whereas between 2015 and 2016, there were just 11,747. During this time, there was a spike in confidence in the police force, local authorities and in Government. All seemed well.

Metal Recyclers understood the benefits that came with the SMDA and were happy with the changes. If the Act is enforced properly, then the costs to implement it will be worth it, or so the thinking went.

Enforcement funding cuts

Unfortunately, despite the steady decrease in metal theft between 2013 and 2016, enforcement funding for the SMDA has been cut considerably. There is no longer a metal theft task force whose sole job is to enforce the Act. Similarly, there are now little to no dedicated police officers, and no drive to investigate scrap metal yards who are openly paying cash for scrap metal.

If this is the case, then why has metal theft fallen so dramatically? Well, initiatives such as Operation Tornado and the introduction of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act meant that thefts were already being driven down by external forces. On top of this, metal prices were falling regardless.

Theft back on the rise

And now, despite the good work that has been doner in recent years, metal prices are spiking again and so are thefts, with churches across England being targeted every week. Consequently, the SMDA is now under review by the Home Office, and over 50 bodies have submitted a response. Most metal recyclers are pleading for a broadening of the Act’s remit, and an increase in funding for the enforcement of the act, hoping that the illegal cash-paying yards can be actively sought out and dealt with properly.

Unfortunately, it is not clear whether the act will be strengthened, since it has been difficult to discern thus far who’s to blame for lack of enforcement; the Home Office, local authorities and the Environment Agency are all reflecting accusations.

However, one thing is clear – scrap metal theft is a problem, and it’s vital that all parties concerned act quickly to rectify the situation.

At Hill Metal Recycling we pride ourselves on the fact that we are the leading recycler of ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metals throughout Harlow, Hertfordshire and the surrounding areas. We are affiliated with the DVLA and Environment Agency bodies and are widely qualified and experienced to appropriately handle and dispose of all types of scrap metal. We offer a 24 hour scrap collection service, including cars, for commercial and some domestic needs. To discuss the best prices you can fetch for your scrap metals, don’t hesitate to get in contact with our friendly team today!