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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

New trial launched to help combat metal theft

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Minister for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour Reduction, Lord Henley, recently joined senior officers from British Transport Police and Durham, Cleveland and Northumbria forces to launch Operation Tornado, a new trial being run at scrap metal recyclers throughout the North East to help combat the increasing problem of metal theft.

Operation Tornado, spearheaded by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Home Office, British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), British Transport Police (BTP), and Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland Police, will aim to make it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal through an identification scheme.

ACPO spokesperson Chief Inspector Robin Edwards said:

“As of 3 January 2012, those selling scrap metal to participating dealers in Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland will now be required to provide proof of their identity by producing either a photo card driving licence including an address, or a passport or national ID card supported with a utility bill, which must be under three months old and show their address.

“This will remain in place for six months initially with the option to extend the term of the trial as it progresses.

“The trial, which has been developed in partnership with the British Metals Recycling Association, is one of a number of measures that is currently being explored to restrict the sale and movement of stolen metal.

“It has been designed not to inhibit those dealers that operate legitimate businesses, but to deter thieves and cut crime.

“80% of the scrap metal recyclers in the region have signed up to be involved in this trial to help fight the stolen metal trade and make it more difficult for thieves to make money by targeting our communities for metal.”

Lord Henley, the Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour Reduction said:

“Metal theft is a serious and growing national and international problem and the Government is working across departments, with law enforcement agencies and private industry on co-ordinated action to tackle it.

“It is clear legislation dating back to the 1960s is not sufficient to deal with an increasingly organised crime and we are examining what changes to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 are needed.

“In the meantime we are working with the police and other law enforcement agencies on what immediate steps can be taken to better identify rogue metal dealers.

“I welcome Operation Tornado and hope that the many legitimate members of the scrap metal recycling industry in the North East will use this opportunity to help us to remove unscrupulous dealers who operate outside the law or turn a blind eye to stolen material.”

Ian Hetherington, Director General at the British Metals Recycling Association, said:

“Metals theft is a real problem for the metals industry and BMRA continues to advise government on the issue.

“BMRA and our members are actively supporting Operation Tornado. The measures being trialed are sensible and provide the basis for a reform of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act – which we all want.

“It’s important to note that many of the problems encountered by legitimate metal recyclers lie with the ineffective enforcement of existing regulations and the proliferation of the illegal, unregulated trade, and not with the majority who operate highly regulated, licensed and permitted sites.

“This is an opportunity for the metals recycling industry to trial some of the strengthened measures coupled with what we hope will be robust police efforts to prevent legitimate business being diverted away from those applying the Operation Tornado measures and into the hands of non-compliant operators.

“BMRA fully supports a nationally co-ordinated approach from the police and the Environment Agency with stronger sentencing and appropriate penalties for those stealing metal and those setting out to dispose of it.”

Metal thieves have caused misery for countless thousands of people across the country and the railway has experienced significant issues for some time, but throughout 2011 criminals have been diversifying and targeting metal from other areas, including power cables, utilities pipe work, telecommunications cabling, residential properties, businesses and catalytic converters from vehicles.

All affected industries are working together to tackle the problem, which is now a significant threat to the UK infrastructure.

CI Robin Edwards added: “A key part of ACPO’s strategy is to choke off the market for stolen metal. We are talking to the Government about stricter controls and legislative changes that will make life much more difficult for thieves and unscrupulous scrap metal dealers.

“There is a clear correlation between the price of copper on commodity markets and rates of crime.

“The legislation for dealing with the crime, dating back to 1964, is certainly “outdated” and needs redrafting.

“The existing legislation has failed to keep pace with current market conditions.”

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