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Time to challenge metal theft

Nicola Guest - Alchemy Metals
Nicola Guest

Nicola Guest, who recently presented at the National Metal Crime conference in Birmingham, provided us with her views on metal theft within the scrap metal industry, some ideas on combatting this and how these ideas also refer to the vehicle dismantling industry.

As an ethical scrap metal merchant, Alchemy Metals take metal theft exceedingly seriously. We fully appreciate the impact it has on communities, the affected industry and of course, the scrap sector itself can also be a victim. We have worked tirelessly for a number of years with affected key industries and were consulted during the development and introduction of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013.

Alchemy have long felt that best practice within the scrap metal sector is key to combatting metal theft. The removal of cash payments from the equation has helped enormously to clean up the sector – whilst cash is still available, it’s much less widely used or accepted.

It’s important to acknowledge that there is no silver bullet. Without effective licencing, enforcement and greater controls from the owners and producers of metal the problem will continue to increase. Unfortunately after the introduction of the new legislation, neither enforcement nor licensing plans were fully embedded in business as usual and this has left the owners of metal vulnerable once again.

It’s time for all scrap metal merchants to step up and question the materials that are arriving at their gates; turning a blind eye is not acceptable. Dealers must ask questions: is there a genuine reason for this individual to be selling these items? Does the material raise questions in terms of its provenance? Would you reasonably expect the seller to be in possession of this type of material?

Even if the seller appears to have a genuine reason for being in possession of the material, don’t accept it at face value, question it. Request a letter of approval from the original source of the materials. Hold the materials in quarantine until such confirmation is received. We do this as standard and have never received anything other than support from the sellers of these materials. If the seller questions the process, it’s time to call the Police.

There is an argument that the scrap metal industry should not have to self-police, but the reality is that sections of them actually need to. In order to remain compliant with the laws of our nation it’s the responsibility of merchants to ensure they’re behaving ethically and asking the right questions.

Scrap Metal Merchants have the power to stop metal theft in its tracks – if there is no outlet then there is no point stealing metal.

This same message should be echoed, not just in the scrap metal industry but in the vehicle dismantling industry too. Already, the idea of taking cash for scrap is becoming a thing of the past as more and more sites are taking it upon themselves to change to alternative payment methods. Ensuring appropriate paperwork is gathered is something every yard should be executing to ensure there is a paper trail in place. 

Visit Alchemy Metals at www.alchemymetals.com

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