Metal theft has fallen by more than three quarters in 4 years following action by government to tackle a spike in these crimes.
A review into the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, which brought in tough
measures to crack down on the trade in stolen metal, has revealed 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.
from the Office for National Statistics showed police-recorded metal
thefts in England and Wales fell to fewer than 13,000 in 2016/17. At its peak, metal theft was estimated to cost the economy more than
£220 million per year, prompting the introduction of strict new
licensing requirements for scrap metal dealers, identity checks for
those selling scrap metal and the creation of a new offence for dealers
to purchase scrap metal for cash.
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
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."
The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 was a response to an increase in
metal theft between 2009 and 2011.
The sectors severely affected by this
crime included, power, transport and telecommunications – and the
security of our national infrastructure was under threat – but religious
sites and churches were also frequently targeted with metal stolen from
roofs and altars.The purpose of the Act was to enforce stricter regulations of the
metal recycling sector to make it more difficult to dispose of stolen
metal and reverse the upward trend in thefts.
- requires a scrap metal dealer to hold and display a licence,
issued by the relevant local authority. This can be either a site
licence or a mobile collector’s licence;
- permits local authorities to charge a licence fee, set locally, at cost recovery;
- allows for the closure of unlicensed sites;
- requires local authorities to provide appropriate information to
enable the Environment Agency in England and the Natural Resources Body
for Wales to maintain national registers of licences;
- requires scrap metal dealers to verify the identity and address of persons from whom they receive metal
makes it an offence for a scrap metal dealer to purchase scrap metal for cash;
- sets out the record-keeping requirements in respect of any scrap metal received or disposed of by scrap metal dealers;
- provides the police and local authorities with a right to enter and inspect scrap metal dealers’ premises.
Read the report.