Metal Theft Bill Nears Passage in UK

Bill passes third reading in U.K.’s Parliament.

February 18, 2013
Recycling Today Staff
Legislation & Regulations Nonferrous

A bill intended to crack down on metal theft and, in particular, the desecration of war memorials has received its third reading in the U.K. Parliament’s House of Lords, meaning it has completed all stages of Parliament.

The bill has been championed by Richard Ottaway, a Conservative member of Parliament from Croydon South. It is described in U.K. press reports as proposing significant changes to the scrap metal business, including licensing requirements.

One press report lists the following measures as part of the bill:

  • any individual or business that carries on business as a scrap metal dealer must complete an enhanced application process to get a license – local authorities can refuse unsuitable applicants and can revoke licenses;
  • all sellers of metal must provide verifiable ID at point of sale, which is recorded and retained by the dealer;
  • police will have the power by court order to close unlicensed premises;
  • breaches of the act include trading in cash, failing to keep accurate records of deals and unlicensed trading; the cash trading offense will apply to all scrap metal dealers including ‘mobile/itinerant collectors’ who conduct house-to-house collections;
  • a single national publicly available register of all scrap metal dealers is to be established;
  • the definition of scrap metal dealer to include motor salvage operators, thereby bringing that licensing scheme within one new scrap metal licensing regime.

The bill may receive final passage by the end of March 2013.

“Today marks a significant victory for communities throughout the country,” says Ottaway. “For too long they have provided rich feeding grounds for opportunistic thieves who know they can get rid of stolen metals at rogue or negligent scrap yards. Metal theft is no petty crime. It hits at the heart of our daily lives – grinding trains to a halt, cutting off power supplies to hospitals and other lifelines, stripping roofs off churches and schools at huge public expense,” Ottaway adds.

“Even more sickening are the attacks on our crematoriums and war memorials commemorating the nation’s war dead," Ottaway continues. "It is particularly fitting therefore that this Bill will be made law this year, in time for the centenary of the First World War.”

The bill has won support from members of Parliament in both Houses