Mixed response to UK ban on cash payments for scrap metal
London (Platts)--4Dec2012/926 am EST/1426 GMT
A change in UK law to eliminate cash payments for scrap metal, which
took effect Monday, has met with a mixed response.
"Banning cash alone will have a devastating effect on legitimate small
traders whilst having little effect on the rate of metal theft, unless there
is a robust regulatory framework to back it up," said Ian Hetherington,
director general of the British Metals Recycling Association, in a statement.
The new measures, aimed at stamping out the illegal metal industry,
which according to government estimates costs the UK at least GBP220 million
($354 million) a year, remove "no questions asked" cash payments for scrap
metal, raise financial penalties for illegal traders to fines of up to
GBP5,000 and give police new powers of entry to tackle illegal trading in
"These measures are designed to reform the industry to support
legitimate dealers and tighten the net around those who flout the rules,"
said Crime Prevention Minister Jeremy Browne in a statement.
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The new law on cash payments applies to traditional scrap yards as well
as mobile collectors, known as "itinerant collectors," who go from house to
house collecting waste materials including scrap metal, the BMRA's
"We are confident that 99% of itinerant collectors are now covered by
the cash ban," he said. "However, as legislation currently stands, some metal
traders -- such as motor vehicle salvage operators -- are exempt, which
leaves an unfair playing field."
The UK's Association of Chief Police Officers welcomed the new measures
as an important first step.
"These measures will seriously curtail the market for stolen metal as
there will now be a clear audit trail back to those bringing commodities into
recycling yards and severe sanctions for those who step out of line," said
the ACPO's lead on metal theft, Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther, in a
"The step forward in legislation is welcome and significant, but will
not work in isolation," Crowther said. "Industry, police and other agencies
must continue to work together to enforce the new legislation, support
further modernisation of the law and take action against those criminals who
continue to target the very infrastructure we have all come to rely upon."
The BMRA stressed the need for further legislation, in the form of the
Scrap Metal Dealers Bill, currently making its way through Parliament. If
made law, the bill would require anyone selling scrap metal to dealers to
provide photographic proof of identity and would also stipulate that no one
may carry on a business as a scrap metal dealer unless they have a license
from their local authority.
The bill "aims to improve regulation and enforcement to rid the industry
of illegal and unscrupulous dealers," Hetherington said.
If illegal sites are allowed to continue to trade, "they will no doubt
offer householders and businesses payment in cash too, therefore negating the
purpose of the cash ban -- to remove the rewards that make metal theft so
enticing," he said. "It is now more important than ever that it makes it into
law and is implemented as quickly as possible."
The bill is expected to receive parliamentary approval in the New Year.
--Andy Blamey, email@example.com
--Edited by James Leech, firstname.lastname@example.org