Thefts on the Decline – the First Effects of Changes in Regulations
The number of thefts of metal in the United Kingdom has declined. This is very good news both for the authorities and citizens. The UK government and local authorities believe that a decrease in the number of thefts is directly related to the introduction of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act.
For years, thefts of scrap metal in the United Kingdom were a part of everyday life. Everything you could make a profit on was stolen; some extreme cases included metal benches from parks, outdoor railings, roofs, and even street lamps. Countless thefts really hit taxpayers in the pocket. Only in 2011, losses sustained by local budgets in the UK amounted to 4.6 billion pounds. Thus, thefts led to a huge deficit in the budgets of local authorities.
As a response to this situation, one of the MPs submitted a bill aimed at regulating the process of granting licences to scrap metal dealers, forbidding cash settlements, and increasing penalties for illegal or dishonest activities in this trade. The Scrap Metal Dealers Act was introduced in 2013.
The First Changes
Already two years after the Act came into force, local authorities in the UK reported a significant decrease in metal theft. The data indicates that at the end of 2013 and at the beginning of 2014 there were 40,680 scrap metal thefts reported in the territory of England and Wales. For comparison, a year earlier there were as many as 59,788 such thefts, so the number of metal thefts dropped by about one-third. The largest decrease – by 46% – was registered in the South Eastern Region. In London it was 44%, and in the North Western Region – 40%.
Local authorities are convinced that the drop in the number of thefts is directly linked with the introduction of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act of 2013. The Act imposes a number of obligations and restriction on dealers, with the aim of fighting crime. Pursuant to its provisions, scrap metal dealers are obliged to obtain a license for their activity from local authorities, they are no longer allowed to make cash transactions, and they are legally bound to keep a record of previous owners of the materials they buy. On the other hand, the authorities were granted greater rights in connection with activities aimed at dishonest dealers.
That’s Not All!
Representatives of the authorities express their satisfaction with the drop in scrap metal thefts reported. This is good news for both local communities and the UK budget.
Regulations on trade in scrap metal have been finally brought in, limiting the possibilities of potential criminal activity and improving the safety of the British people.
The UK authorities, however, are not going to rest on their laurels. The number of thefts did drop significantly only two years after the Act was introduced, but there are still about 40,000 scrap metal thefts reported every year. So it’s not the time to withdraw from the fight. Local authorities still need to closely cooperate with the police in order to effectively uncover illegal activities and minimise the number of crimes committed.
Also the British Metals Recycling Association, representing the metal recycling sector in the United Kingdom, is very satisfied. Its Director General Ian Hetherington, and since October 2014 also Deputy President of BMRA, said that he was glad about the drop in the number of scrap metal thefts in England and Wales. He also expressed his concern about further activities of the authorities, emphasising that the Police, the Environment Agency and local authorities had to provide necessary means for the effective enforcement of the provisions of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act. Professional, sound and united activities aimed at fighting crime should ensure the British people safety and put an end to illegal trade once and for all.