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Scrap Metal Act has Implications for Perimeter Security

Palisade fencing for utility site The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 came into force on 1st October 2013 with the aim of reducing metal thefts.  Although this has been broadly welcomed, Jeremy Procter, Managing Director of Procter Fencing Systems, cautions that this new legislation is no reason to be complacent about perimeter security.

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 came into force on 1st October 2013 with the aim of reducing metal thefts.  Under this new legislation, all scrap metal dealers must apply to their local council for a licence, and dealers must verify the name and address of sellers at the point of sale.  In addition, local authorities and the police have been granted new powers to inspect premises where they suspect illegal activity is taking place.   Scrap metal dealers – and that includes door-to-door ‘mobile collectors’ – can be fined up to £5,000 if they are found to be dealing in cash.

According to the Home Office, metal theft has been costing the UK economy around £200  million per year, and there has been a great deal of publicity surrounding the theft of railway signalling cables, telecommunications cables, and lead from churches.  But countless other businesses and individuals have also suffered at the hands of metal thieves.  It is therefore hoped that the new Scrap Metal Dealers Act will go a long way towards reducing metal theft, but can it eliminate it?  

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is no.  The new legislation cannot reduce the global demand for metals, which continues to be very strong, so the high price of scrap metal remains as an incentive for unscrupulous individuals and gangs who steal metals, as well as rogue dealers who stand to profit from selling it on.  Although there are now strong deterrents in place, deterrents are rarely sufficient to eradicate crime.  

Premises where metals are stored, in whatever form, still need to have good perimeter security to deter and prevent theft.  But there is another important point to consider as well.  If The Scrap Metal Dealers Act is sufficient to deter most metal theft, the individuals and gangs previously involved in this activity are now likely to be looking to steal other items with a resale value: a business that was previously overlooked by thieves may now find themselves being targeted.  

Perimeter security fencing is the first line of defence around any premises and is therefore vitally important.  Appropriate high-security fencing can act as an effective deterrent and, moreover, correctly specified and installed fencing also prevents some fencing additionally delays determined intruders when they are attempting to enter or leave the premises, which provides an opportunity for them to be apprehended. 

In many cases today the fencing is only one element of the overall perimeter security, with additional security features typically including electric pulse fencing, rotating toppings and electronic surveillance.  Remember, too, that care must be taken to ensure that pedestrian and vehicular access points are not vulnerable, so gates and associated access controls must be properly specified and installed as well.

Specifying perimeter security has now become a complex issue and there are pitfalls to be avoided.  Not only are there legal requirements to be met, but each application has its own needs – so the solution to the problem is different in every case and may not even ben the same at all locations around a site.  Specifying the wrong type of fencing and complementary security measures could result in inadequate protection, whereas over-specifying could prove to be unnecessarily costly.

It is clear that The Scrap Metal Dealer Act will not end all metal theft and could actually increase other types of acquisitive crime.  To help specify the correct perimeter security fencing, gates and other measures, Procter Contracts has published ‘All-Round Protection – A Specifier’s Guide to Perimeter Security Protection ‘. Download a copy of this free guide now, view the various fencing and gates products on the website, or telephone 0800 2944177 or email Procter Fencing Experts to inquire about your particular projects.

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