Greater regulation for scrap metal industry

5 Jan 2012

Laws on the sale of scrap metal in the UK are likely to be changed
in order to combat the rise in metal theft. Sellers could be made to provide dealers
with proof of identity to make it easier to track where metal has come from and
there may even be a ban on cash payments.

The value of metals has risen dramatically recently and police
believe metal theft now costs the UK up to £1billion a year, with war memorials,
church rooftops and copper railway cables all becoming targets.

A six-month pilot, Operation Tornado, has been set up to test out the new registration
scheme in Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland. Sellers will need to provide a
form of photo-identification and a household bill in order to sell to a dealer,
a step up from the current system where only a name is required.

The registration scheme is likely to be launched nationwide and
may be followed by a ban on cash deals for metal which would make metal
transactions easier to trace. The British Transport Police are in favour of
eliminating the sale of metals by cash, with deputy chief constable Paul
Crowther telling BBC Radio 4's The Report that cash deals “foster criminality”.

However, the idea has divided opinion. The British Metal Recycling
Association (BMRA) support the proposed regulations but feel a ban on cash deals
could “could increase the incidents of illegal activity” as well as harming
their relationship with customers who mostly deal in cash.


Further information


Listen to The Report on BBC Radio 4 at 20:00 GMT on 5 January


A Materials World article on metal theft (members only)