It was announced last week by the Home Secretary, Theresa May that the government would be banning scrap yards from paying cash to people who bring in scrap metal to be recycled.
The ban on selling scrap metal for cash comes after an estimated 15000 tonnes of metal was stolen and sold in the UK last year.Half of this amount was from the metal industry but the other 7500 tonnes was stolen from public places such as railways, other transport networks, electricity wires, war statues and even church roofs.
The ban is expected to go before a House of Lords committee today (30th January) in order to get approval. Lord Henley the home office minister for crime prevention is expected to speak in support of the ban.
Many cash transactions that take place at yards for scrap metal do so without any form of ID being needed or proof that the individual actually owns the metal they are selling. As well as this because of the high number of cash transactions that are taking place some scrap yards are using this in order to evade tax.
The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) strongly opposes the ban and says that if it is made law then the trade will be driven underground to illegal scrap yards. However the BMRA do say that the theft of metal is a big issue for the industry and do welcome the Government’s focus on it.
The Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper said that the Police need the power to close scrap yards who are breaking the rules, if the ban was to come in the Police would not be able to find any illegal scrap yards to close them down. She also thinks that a cashless system would push scrap dealing underground and make policing much harder.
Its expected that Labour will propose alternative options to a complete ban including creating a license scheme for scrap traders instead of the current local authority registration or giving Police better powers to close dodgy scrap yards.
Modern metal recyclers have invested millions of pounds in the last decade in advanced research in order to achieve much better recycling and recovery rates on scrap cars. This research has helped to divert thousands of tonnes of metal from ending up at landfill.
Scrap yards say they do work by the rules and do have the right security procedures already in place with most of them reporting to take photo ID or proof of address. All transactions are recorded on TV and anyone turning up in a taxi or on foot will be turned away so a full number plate can be taken down. Legitimate scrap deals say they suffer significantly from metal theft and will inform the police if anything they receive is considered suspicious.