News Archive

NE Metal Op

by msecadm4921

New measures to combat the rising problem of metal theft are being introduced in the north east….

Operation Tornado, headed 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.<br><br>ACPO spokesperson Chief Inspector Robin Edwards said: ‚ÄúAs 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 license 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‚Äù.<br><br>‚ÄúThe 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 remove unscrupulous dealers who operate outside the law.<br><br>‚ÄúWe are hoping that all the estimated 240 registered scrap metal dealers in the region will sign 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.‚Äù<br><br>Ian Hetherington, director general at the British Metals Recycling Association, said: ‚ÄúMetals theft is a real problem for the metals industry and BMRA continues to advise government on the issue.<br><br>‚ÄúBMRA 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 ‚Äì which we all want.<br><br>‚ÄúIt‚Äôs 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.<br><br>‚ÄúThis is an opportunity for the metals recycling industry to trial some of the strengthened measures being adopted 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.<br><br>‚ÄúBMRA fully supports a nationally coordinated 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.‚Äù<br><br>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.<br><br>Ten people have also died in the past year as a result of metal theft.<br><br>Whatever the crime, the net result is the same ‚Äì disruption to everyday life and severe cost to the local and national economy.<br><br>CI Robin Edwards added: ‚ÄúA key part of ACPO‚Äôs 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.<br><br>‚ÄúThere 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 within the industry and commodity market which influence the price of recycled metals.‚Äù<br><br>Lord Henley, the Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour Reduction said:<br><br>‚ÄúMetal 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.<br><br>‚ÄúIt 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.<br><br>‚ÄúIn 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.<br><br>‚ÄúI 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.‚Äù<br><br>Transport Minister Norman Baker told MPs in parliament this week that new legislation might be required to deal with the "major problem" of cable theft on the railways.<br><br>He said: "There is a general concern, which I am very happy to share, that the legislation in place isn’t designed for the spate of thefts we are seeing."<br><br>Mr Baker said that no options had been ruled out, including a possible change to the 1964 Scrap Metal Dealers Act.<br><br>Mr Baker said that a newly-formed cross-ministerial group had already met twice to discuss the problem and has looked at what could be done to issue new guidance to the Environment Agency in terms of looking at scrap yards receiving rail cable.<br><br>A Cross Industry Metal Theft Lobbying Group involving a number of organisations affected by metal theft including Network Rail, Energy Networks Association and British Telecom, have been calling for the Government to bring in new legislative measures to deal with metal theft for some time. ACPO estimates that metal theft is costing the UK economy around £1bn per annum.<br><br>These measures include:<br><br> * A robust licensing regime with clear requirements on scrap dealers to take steps to reduce the risk that stolen materials are purchased or received.<br> * Scrap metal dealers to pay a licence fee in order to give local authorities greater funds to facilitate the regulation of the licence.<br> * Property obtained by breaches of the legislation to be classed as criminal assets allowing Proceeds of Crime provisions to apply.<br> * Police powers to close scrap metal dealers and police authority to search and investigate all premises owned and operated by a scrap metal dealer.<br> * Measures to restrict trade in scrap metals to cashless payments and introduction of a requirement that scrap metal must be held for a certain period before being sold or processed in order to allow payments to be processed.<br> * Searchable records to be kept of proof of identity of the seller of scrap and any vehicles used to transport it, for example through photo ID and CCTV.<br> * Magistrate powers to add restrictions on to licences and to prevent re-opening of closed yards until conditions have been met.

Meanwhile,

British Transport Police will be blitzing Northumberland over the next few weeks with additional officers and patrols in a push to target cable crime in the area.

The special operation will involve large numbers of additional officers from BTPs dedicated cable squad, Operation Leopard, being deployed to patrol the Blythe and Tyne railway line following an increase in cable offences.

The additional officers will provide high visibility patrols day and night in key hotspot areas on the railway network that are often targeted by criminals attempting to steal railway cable which results in disruption and misery for the travelling public.

Detective Inspector Mick Jackson of British Transport Police who heads up the teams said, “We have recently seen an increase in cable theft from the railway in this area. Unfortunately the price of copper on world markets continues to drive the demand for cable, which has resulted in an increase in the number of incidents of cable theft on the railway.

It’s costing the industry, and the wider economy, millions of pounds and that figure is rising”, he said.

“More and more culprits and scrap metal dealers are being caught, and we’re pushing hard to make sure they face the toughest possible sentences.in relation to this crime. We have had cable thieves badly injured and some even killed attempting to steal cable.”

“Cable theft is far from a victimless crime and, aside from the cost to the industry, causes misery and major issues for countless people whose journeys – some of which could be vitally important e.g. hospital appointments and flights – are hampered by the resulting delays and cancellations.”

DI Jackson added, “BTP, in partnership with Network Rail, has developed a number of tactics to tackle cable and metal theft, including frequent visits to scrap metal dealers, burying and security marking cable to make it harder to steal and traceable when it is stolen, installation of CCTV cameras on the railway network and increased number of officers patrolling the lines day and night. We are committed to tackling this crime and are doing everything we can to protect your railway.

“We hope this sends a strong message out to those who engage in criminal activity that we have more officers patrolling the network than ever before and you will be caught.

Phil Verster, Route Managing Director for Network Rail, said: “Once again the irresponsible behaviour of greedy thieves has caused massive inconvenience to passengers in Northumberland. Not only are they putting themselves in danger, they are forcing us to use slow and outdated methods of moving trains in order to protect passengers.

“The delay caused by these crimes costs us all millions of pounds every year through missed appointments and delayed freight deliveries. This is unacceptable. We are protecting our network better than ever using security patrols, CCTV and forensic marking. We will find the thieves and we will support BTP in bringing them to court and seeking the toughest penalties.

“I fully support calls to improve legislation governing the market in scrap metal. We need to address outdated laws which allow unscrupulous dealers to profit from the misery and inconvenience of others whilst protecting the legitimate businesses which operate in this area.”

The crime-reporting line and charity Crimestoppers, with Network Rail, is offering a reward of up to £1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any cable thieves.

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