Manchester scrap dealers blast police as Operation Alloy ‘ruins’ business – yet metal theft drops by 70%

By Mancunian Matters staff

Scrap metal traders have blasted Greater Manchester Police’s Operation Alloy for their suffering business since it came into effect.

The operation forms part of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, amended this year, whereby traders must undergo background checks and can only trade in cheques or bank transfers.

With all dealers and collectors now needing a licence costing up to £1,000, one family-run business in Bury has seen customer numbers drop from around 20 per day to just five.

Jake Packun, 23, co-owner of Autosave scrap yard, told MM: ‘’It’s had a 100% negative effect on our business. It’s hard for people to afford the licences. Unless you have a large capital to start with, you just can’t do it.’’

He lamented ‘aggressive changes’ affecting mobile tradesmen collecting metal door-to-door, who now need a separate licence for each borough they trade in.

Several dealers feel Operation Alloy is targetting the whole industry, without distinguishing between those who trade honestly and illegally.

One trader, who refused to be named, said of the police: “They don’t want to work with us. They treat us as suspects.”

He also complained of profit losses due to the new cashless payment policy, as it costs 71p each time he banks a cheque.

In a series of raids carried out by GMP last month, 14 vehicles were seized, five people arrested and a total of 80 offences recorded.

However, figures show a 70% drop in metal thefts, from 8,052 offences between July 2010 and June 2011 to 2,388 between July 2012 and June 2013.

Speaking of their success, PCSO John Woods said last month: “This has largely been down to various agencies working in close partnership and sharing information.”

Yet scrap metal dealers believe the scheme is simply too indiscriminatory in nature and punishes honest traders.

Mr Packun said: “It’s a really hard line. Police think we’re magicians and should be able to tell when metal has been stolen.’’

Greater Manchester Police declined to comment.

Picture courtesy of Ard Hesselink, with thanks.

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