The theft of metal roofing has been a problem for a number of years now. There have been countless stories in the papers about thefts from schools, churches and businesses. However, a new law has been passed in the House of Commons and will soon go through the House of Lords for royal assent. The aim of this law is to make it more difficult for thieves to sell scrap metal. The law was introduced by way of a private members bill by Tory MP Richard Ottoway.
Previous laws concerning scrap metal, primarily laid out in the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964, have become outdated and do not fully address today’s issues. The new law, The Scrap Metal Dealers Bill 2012, seeks to remedy the issues no longer relevant from the previous bill.
The law has come about after a raft of cases involving metal theft from war memorials, which have become more common due to the increase in metal prices. In fact, the problem has become so bad that insurers claim that the number of thefts have doubled in the last five years. The general principle of the new law is that scrap metal merchants will no longer be able to pay cash for metal. All transactions must be electronic or by cheque, meaning there will always be a record of who has sold the metal. This removes any anonymity which previously existed, and means that dealers and thieves cannot make quick sales without any records.
Whilst it is generally recognised in the trade that reform is needed, there has been some backlash about the no cash rule. There is concern from dealers that bringing in these changes could potentially drive potential customers to less legitimate dealers.
The new law also requires dealers to hold licences, and will make licencing laws far stricter. Councils will have the power to revoke these licences if it suspects illegal activity. Also, sellers must produce relevant ID before any metal can change hands. IS will consist of driving licences and recent utility bills. Hefty fines will be imposed for any dealers not adhering to the new rules. Under the law,police will be given greater power to inspect scrap metal yards if it suspects illegal activity.
As you can see, this new law will bring about much needed change in the industry. The main concern is about sellers being aware of the new rules, but once established, this can only be a good thing for the scrap metal industry.