Five years on… How has the Scrap Metal Dealers Act changed our industry?

Maxilead Metals were one of the first scrap yards in Manchester and the northwest to take the lead in reforming practices across the board. One of the biggest changes apart from not being able to pay cash was to implement our membership system to meet the criteria of the Act. The new rulings meant that it was illegal to not carry ID when selling scrap metal. Our membership cards provide all the relevant information, which means scrap sellers, can carry out problem-free transactions at our scrap metal yard in Tyldesley.

According to a report from the Home Office released this month, the number of thefts in scrap metal has fallen by more than 75% in four years. The report analyses the findings to reveal that the number of thefts has dropped from nearly 62,000 per year in 2012/13 to around 16,000 in 2015/16, potentially saving the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds.

At its peak, scrap metal theft was costing the economy more than £220 million a year – and in light of this month’s report, the Home Office have declared that they will continue to retain the Act, rather than strengthen it, as some industry experts were calling for.

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said: “Metal thefts can have a hugely negative impact on victims and the wider community, particularly when items which form part of our nation’s heritage such as war memorials, the statues in our parks and town centres, or other sites of religious, community or cultural value are callously targeted.

“I am pleased the Act continues to be a powerful weapon against this form of criminality and the robust measures put in place in 2013 are working to regulate the industry and deter people from stealing metal or dealing with stolen scrap metal.

“We will continue to work with a range of partners to identify whether more can be done to prevent these crimes from occurring and ensure that those involved are brought to justice.”

However, the British Metal Recycling Association (BMRA) have criticised the lack of action that the Home Office has taken, suggesting that, in fact, metal theft is on the rise, and more needs to be done to the Act to strengthen it.

A spokesperson for the BMRA said that the Association was dismayed that the Home Office had not only chosen to strengthen the Act, but also not to fund it further through re-establishing the Metal Theft Taskforce.

The statement from the BMRA said, “Instead, Government has chosen to take the path of least resistance, thereby ignoring the pleas by the many victims of crime to strengthen the Act. Since the review was announced, we have repeatedly warned that, as metal prices recover, the reports of metal theft will rise – and they have done, significantly.”

Maxilead Metals continues to do everything it can in its power to reduce scrap metal theft. Our meticulous administration, fact checking and registration processes means that legitimate scrap dealers are welcomed at Maxilead, and we deter illegal activity by remaining an established and well-respected name in the scrap metal industry.