Thursday, 29 December 2011

Why the governments new metal theft initiative needed more thought

Today I did an interview broadcast on Sky News on metal theft

Next week the government will begin its £5m scheme to tackle metal theft aimed at making it easier to trace sellers. 

The new scheme will be trialled in North East England from January 3, under which people selling scrap metal to dealers will have to provide proof of identity, supported with a utility bill.

Police said they hoped the estimated 240 scrap metal dealers in Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland will sign up to the six-month trial, codenamed operation Tornado.

It's all well meaning but a number of flaws need to be highlighted.

- This is a voluntary scheme. Why would one of the unregistered 900 scrap metal dealers join this scheme? Why would a dealer knowingly  receiving stolen scrap metal join up? Why would a scrap steal thief go to a registered dealer? 

- The idea of identity is important but most of the good dealers already do this as a matter of good practice. The problem they face is contamination from dubious dealers able to remove the identity of stolen material.

-this trial does not include cashless payments which is worrying and goes against the governments prince argument of traceability.

- the 6 month trial, operation Tornado will now end on the 3rd of July with time thereafter for analysis. The Olympics are in July. Are the government going to delay legislation or pass legislation without knowing the results of this pilot? Dithering and confusion seems to exist and in times of austerity can this £5m be justified considering it is not a complex issue and has precedent in new legislation in Belgium, Bulgaria and France as well as many states in the US.

- it fails to join up HMRC and the EA as well as local government, all whom have an important role in the future regulation and tax revenues.