Independent senator: Scrap-metal enforcement is key

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Independent Senator Paul Richards.

Paul Richards said enforcement of legislation to regulate the scrap metal industry is critical to ensure TT benefits from the industry’s positive aspects and is protected from its negative aspects.

In his contribution to debate on the Scrap Metal Bill 2022 in the Senate, Richards observed there is history in Trinidad and Tobago of lawmakers starting “hot and sweaty” to pass laws to deal with a particular problem, But months or years later, there is little to no follow-up.

But Richards said, “We have a poor enforcement record in TT.”

Referring to an earlier contribution by Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, about the types of criminality which could take place in the industry, Richards said not all of the metal being stolen was scrap metal.

Nor was the theft of scrap metal unique to TT. Richards observed in a single year, the United Kingdom recorded 80,000-100,000 reports of scrap metal thefts.

While this year such thefts included that of a church bell, Richards said TT should consider itself lucky tit was not in the same category of metal theft as countries such as Russia.

“They lost a whole bridge.”

Richards also wondered if the bill effectively closed loopholes which could be used to barter for scrap metal. He said there are reports from other countries that criminal elements do not use cash alone to barter for it. He identified illegal firearms, illegal drugs and bitcoin as some of the other commodities used.

He agreed with an earlier comment in the debate about its being unnecessary to legislate for the police to use force to enter a scrapyard where suspected criminal activity is taking place.

“The police know what they have to do.”

Richards was concerned that such a provision in law could see a potential abuse by police officers against people in certain circumstances.

He disagreed with Jearlean John that people under 16should be allowed to operate as scrap-iron dealers or collectors. Richards reminded senators that a person that age is a minor in the eyes of the law.

“We need to protect our children.”

He also asked whether the law was flexible enough to deal with future criminal activity in the industry, such as computers being stolen and dismantled to steal the metal from their internal component parts.