Monday, 26 September 2011

Scrap time

Drain covers at a Huddersfield scrapyard
 I had an interesting morning today with Kirklees Licensing and West Yorkshire Police doing spot checks of registered and unregistered scrap yards and dealer. The first visit to an unregistered scrap dealer lead to an arrest for a drugs offence.  The other visits to scrapyards involved the checking of records against what we could see around the premises. We came across aluminium beer kegs which are not supposed to be sold as scrap, some very suspicious looking lead with no real explanation of its source and drain hole grates and covers. It was a good thing to do and sent a strong message that the authorities are keen to keep an eye on scrap dealers particularly with the number of lead and copper pipe and wire thefts going on out there. This is often linked, as so much crime is, to feeding drug addiction. It is an issue that many of us come across all the time. Burton Village Hall where we held our Parish meetings had the lead ripped off the roof three times. This is a community building run by volunteers and can ill afford this sort of crime. In Newsome the Roundhouse at Hall Bower Lane has also had similar lead thefts.

Police and Kirklees Licensing officers at a scrap yard
 So what can the Council do to try and raise the standards in the local scrap dealers and stone merchants industry? My contribution to this question is to suggest a voluntary code of conduct for the industry which the Police, the Council and possibly Trading Standards would endorse. The code would ask scrap dealers and stone merchants to sign up to the following or similar:

  • to inform the Police immediately of any suspicious metal/stone presented to them on their premises
  • to not not accept drain covers and beer kegs as scrap
  • to commit to ask the people presenting scrap lead and copper wire where they have got the material from and to make a record of their response
  • to prominently display posters around their premises saying they will report any suspicious scrap/stone presented to them to the police
  • to refuse entry to anyone who turns up in a taxi to deliver scrap
In return Kirklees, West Yorkshire Police and Trading Standards would display on their websites lists of companies that sign up to the voluntary code of conduct. This will mean that law abiding people wanting to use a scrap merchant legitimately to recycle metals will be able to choose one which at least publicly says it opposes receiving stolen material. The Council could provide logos and signage for the scrap dealers to display around their sites. Of course a voluntary code has its limitations but at least people will know something about the companies that do sign up and importantly they will also know something about those who don't.

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