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Tougher Powers to Tackle UK Telecoms Cable and Metal Theft Become Law

Friday, Mar 1st, 2013 (1:38 pm) - Score 615

The House of Lords yesterday granted Royal Assent to a Private Members’ Bill, the Scrap Metal Dealers Act (2012-13), which will bring in new rules to tackle rogue scrap metal traders that have been helping to fuel a rise in the theft of copper broadband and phone cables (plus other metals from different industries).

The new law effectively replaces the old Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 and also adds the requirement that any licence must now be accompanied by a fee, which will be set locally by each relevant authority on a cost recovery basis; it also comes with various other strings attached to help discourage criminal activity and prosecute those involved.

Bill Statement

The Bill intends to raise trading standards across the scrap metal industry by requiring more detailed and accurate records of transactions to be kept. Scrap metal dealers will also be required to verify the identity of those selling metal to them.

The Bill incorporates the separate registration scheme for motor salvage operators under the Vehicle (Crime) Act 2001 into this new regime. This is to replace the current overlapping regimes for the vehicle salvage and scrap metal industries with a single regulatory regime. The Bill also revises the definition of ‘scrap metal dealer’ and ‘scrap metal’ to ensure they reflect the twenty-first century scrap metal industry.

It’s estimated that metal theft can cost the economy up to £800m per year, although this often masks the wider harm that consumers suffer due to the prolonged outage of telecoms services caused by related theft and damage to the national broadband ISP and phone network.

But metal theft doesn’t just affect the telecoms industry and it can also target the national transport infrastructure (railways etc.), electricity links, street furniture, heritage buildings, memorials and not to mention ordinary commercial or residential buildings.

It is anticipated that a period of at least six months will now be required between Royal Assent and commencement to allow licensing authorities to put in place suitable infrastructure to meet the new demands.

Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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