SCRAP metal dealers who do not wish to comply with a code of conduct will be watched.
That’s the warning from Kirklees Council, which this week sent proposals for the voluntary code out to consultation.
The council is the first in the country to draw up a list of conditions, including better licensing, record keeping and no longer paying cash for scrap, in an attempt to stop scrap metal thefts.
Speaking at the council’s cabinet meeting on Tuesday, council leader Mehboob Khan said metal crime cost the country £770m a year.
He said there were 60,000 such offences annually, including the theft of memorial plaques at St Mary’s Church in Mirfield, the theft of 36 door numbers in Spen, memorial plaques stolen from Cleckheaton and the attempted theft of the cross at Heckmondwike’s war memorial.
Once the code has been put into place the council hopes to lobby the government to update legislation dating from 1964 on the matter, which Coun Khan (Lab, Greenhead) said was ‘no longer fit for purpose’.
Backing the proposal, Coun David Sheard (Lab, Heckmondwike) said CCTV cameras should be installed at the entrance of any scrap merchant who refused to adhere to the code.
He added: “In my view any vehicle being used to collect scrap metal should be properly licensed to do so, and must carry all paper work to say how they have bought the metal and how they are going to dispose of it.
“This is our power, and not the police’s to pick up vehicles travelling around with scrap on them.”
Coun Sheard said not only was metal theft an expensive crime, it was also annoying and dangerous as thieves targeting outdoor taps and metal pipes from boilers.
The voluntary code of conduct will be consulted on with all local scrap metal merchants, and the scheme could be rolled out to neighbouring councils.