We have already seen significant reductions in metal theft following targeted police action and the banning of cash payments for scrap metal. The implementation of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 earlier this month will further clamp down on rogue dealers while supporting legitimate businesses.
Following visits I have made to bona fide metal recyclers in my constituency that do carry out checks on their clients in Cornwall, will my hon. Friend tell me what action his Department is taking to ensure that rogue dealers are prosecuted and punished, and does he agree that all metal recyclers must have a level playing field on which to operate?
Yes, I absolutely agree. The Scrap Metal Dealers Act, which I mentioned, is designed precisely to ensure that rogue traders are dealt with properly, and a properly funded licensing scheme will see more effective compliance activity by local authorities and stronger enforcement by the police, ensuring a level playing field for law-abiding scrap metal dealers. For example, we see from the British Transport police that offences are down 44% in the last year.
My local paper still carries adverts providing only a mobile phone number and offering free collection of any scrap metal, cars, vans, caravans and electrical items for cash payments. What can my constituents in Somerset expect by way of checks and investigation into those who place these adverts, especially since fly-tipping of these very items is such a bane to Somerset residents and adds to the cost of their council tax bills?
We have created a new criminal offence to prohibit cash payments to purchase scrap metal and therefore my hon. Friend ought to report that matter to her local police. If it is a registered scrap metal dealer who holds a licence, the local authority will want to look into the matter.