Police forces across the country are joining with Government and other agencies to tackle metal theft this Christmas.
The Home Office, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Environment Agency and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs joined police officers on a day of action yesterday to address the growing problem of metal theft.
2011 has been an extraordinary year for metal theft with all industries recording significant year on year increases for associated crimes.
Now, with the year coming to an end, police and industry are coming together to tackle those who persist in stealing metal whether it be from the railway, business premises, utilities infrastructure or homes.
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther, who heads the Association of Chief Police Officers Metal Theft Working Group, said:
“This has been a remarkable year in terms of metal theft.
“We have seen unprecedented levels of criminal activity, but so have we witnessed incredible efforts by police and other agencies to tackle the issue.
“This day of action builds on the success of previous operations and all involved will use intelligence gathered throughout the year to target those we believe are putting the infrastructure at risk of serious harm.
“All affected industries are now working together to deal with the associated problems and we continue to push for strengthened legislation to help deal with rogue scrap metal recyclers.
“As we approach 2012 I can assure everyone that efforts to reduce metal theft and its impact will continue.
“Thieves and unscrupulous dealers will find the UK is not prepared to suffer any further and we will not hesitate to take action against anyone who is found to be involved in this form of criminality.”
Lord Henley, 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 and with law enforcement 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 immediate action to target metal thieves and rogue scrap metal dealers who trade in stolen goods including co-ordinated days of action like today.”
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:
“Mindless criminals who are stealing metal from our railways, roads, war memorials and churches are causing misery and anger for countless people.
“The Environment Agency will be working with the police to step up raids on dodgy scrap metal yards that fuel the illegal market. These criminals should be in no doubt – stolen metal will be too hot to handle.”
Graham Ranson, from HMRC’s Criminal Taxes Unit added:
“HMRC is pleased to be supporting police and other organisations in the fight against those who steal scrap metal.
“If it comes to light that any scrap metal dealer involved has been deliberately failing to pay the right amount of tax we will come down hard on them. HMRC will not tolerate those who break the rules.”
Bob Mead of the Environment Agency’s Illegals and Waste Team, said:
”The Environment Agency works closely with the police to crackdown on all types of waste crime. This includes sharing information we gather about suspected, criminal activity.
“British Transport Police has the primary responsibility for stamping out trade in stolen metals and the Environment Agency supports them. These visits are the latest in a series of joint action between us and the police to tackle waste crime.”