Metal Thieves – Your Time Is Up!
That's the message as police forces and partner agencies across the UK carry out the latest day of action to tackle metal theft.
Officers from Truro to Thurso will be conducting enforcement activity against Waste Haulage Carriers and Scrap Metal Dealers to identify any unscrupulous dealers and also offenders who steal metal.
West Mercia Police has launched a voluntary scheme in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Worcestershire and invited all 69 of its local dealers to join.
They will agree to only accept items accompanied with photo ID and a utility bill, which will be logged along with the registration number of any vehicles, and the weight and description of metal items bought.
Posters will also have been put up in prominent places to educate clients of the scheme and that their goods won't be accepted without the right ID.
Of the 13 dealers in Telford & Wrekin, all have provisionally agreed to sign up to the scheme.
Today, police officers have visited all 13 dealers to conduct spot checks and ensure they understand how to abide by the scheme.
Speaking about this operation, Sergeant Clive Venables, who is based at Malinsgate Police Station, said:
"We have a good working relationship with our local scrap yards and vehicle salvage businesses and they are all set to sign a voluntary agreement with us not to allow the anonymous sale of metal.
"They will now keep a record of everyone they buy scrap off and will simply not buy from an individual if they cannot formally identify themselves with photographic ID and proof of their address.
"Along with our partner agencies in Telford & Wrekin, we have been working with local scrap dealers for some time to make sure they are all operating within the law, so we are pleased to have the opportunity to work within a national scheme.
"Rogue scrap dealers drive demand for stolen metal and in other areas where a scheme has been introduced they have seen significant falls in metal thefts.
"Rogue dealers also tarnish the reputation of those who do and want to work within the law and it gives us greater confidence that those who are participating in the scheme are not handling stolen metal.
"Those dealers who do not sign up or who are found not to be complying fully with the scheme will suffer increased scrutiny and closer attention."
The West Mercia scheme prepares the local scrap industry ahead of news that legislative change is on the way.
Changes to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act will outlaw all cash transactions at metal recycling yards across England and Wales and there will be a significant increase in fines for those dealers who fail to abide by the rules.
Police lead on metal theft in England and Wales, Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther, said: "Time is up for the thieves who continue to steal from our infrastructure and communities.
"For some time police forces and colleagues across several industries have called for tougher legislation in respect of metal theft.
"The revision of the LASPO Act will provide us with the first significant change in metal recycling legislation since 1964.
"The measures introduced will seriously curtail the market for stolen metal as there will now be a clear audit trail back to those bringing commodities into recycling yards and severe sanctions for those who step out of line."
Nationally, metal theft has risen in prominence during the past 18 months as thieves have targeted everything from vital national infrastructure - such as railway cable, power cable and communication lines - to the most sentimental targets of such as graveyards and war memorials.
Minister for Crime Prevention Jeremy Browne said: "The Government is taking urgent action to tackle metal and cable theft head on. As a first step we are introducing a ban on cash payments by scrap metal dealers, this will remove the ‘no questions asked' cash payments which are a key driver for metal thieves and rogue dealers.
"We are also significantly increasing the fines for all offences under the existing Scrap Metal Dealers Act, and providing police officers with sufficient powers of entry to tackle illegal trading in metal yards.
"We are also working closely with Richard Ottaway MP to ensure his Bill delivers a stronger and more effective licensing regime for the scrap metal industry, replacing the outdated Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964.
"But new laws must be supported by effective enforcement so I welcome the success the police have already achieved to crack down on these unscrupulous thieves and rogue dealers."