The Home Office has been criticised for its decision to retain the Scrap Metal Dealers Act (SMDA), rather than strengthen its powers.
The SMDA was introduced in 2013 in response to rising incidences of metal theft between 2009 and 2011. In a bid to crackdown on the trade in stolen metal, the Act brought in strict new 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.
A Home Office review of the SMDA has revealed that the number of thefts has dropped from nearly 62,000 a year in 2012/13 to around 16,000 in 2015/16.
However, the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) refutes the claim that metal theft is declining, and has said that the latest property crime data from the Office of National Statistics for 2016-17 revealed that metal theft had 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 Meal Theft Taskforce.
In its statement responding to the news, the BMRA said: “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 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.
The Autumn edition of our Clearview newsletter features an article from Robert Fell, Chief Executive of BMRA, on the metal theft crisis and why the BMRA has been calling for the Scrap Metal Dealers Act to be strengthened.