Scrap metal offences

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Scrap metal offences
  • Paying in cash for scrap metal
  • Scrap metal licence offences
  • Identity of buyer or seller offences
  • Sentences for scrap metal offences
  • Maximum sentences for scrap metal offences
  • Charging theft or criminal damage in conjunction with scrap metal crime

Scrap metal offences

Paying in cash for scrap metal

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 (SMDA 2013) was passed in an attempt to regulate the buying and selling of scrap metal and to prevent large scale cable and metal thefts which had been occurring. The Home Office estimated that there were 80,000-100,000 reported metal theft offences a year which cost the economy at least £220-£260m. The SMDA 2013 repeals the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 and Part 1 of Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001 (V(C)A 2001) and provides for a revised regulatory regime for the scrap metal recycling and vehicle dismantling industries.

Section 12 of the SMDA 2013 re-enacts, with modifications, the amendments made by section 146 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO 2012), which inserted section 3A into the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964, creating the offence of purchasing scrap metal for cash. The offence applies to all scrap metal dealers. Section 12 of SDMA 2013 prohibits scrap metal dealers from paying for scrap metal other than by cheque or by electronic transfer.

The scrap metal dealer, the site manager and any person acting for the dealer who makes the payment are all caught by the offence in this section.

There is a defence to this offence of making arrangements to ensure this requirement is met and taking all reasonable steps to

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