Thursday, 10 May 2012

Cumbria Constabulary supports the new initiative to tackle metal theft

As part of ongoing work to tackle metal theft in the North West, a number of forces are getting involved in Operation Tornado.

Operation Tornado was launched across Cumbria in March 2012 under the code name Operation Amber, when officers across Cumbria engaged with scrap metal dealers to introduce the new initiative of checking the identification of those who come to sell scrap. This has now been introduced across the North West.

Operation Tornado spokesman Chief Inspector Robin Edwards said “As of 9 May, those selling scrap metal to participating dealers in the region will be required to provide proof of their identity – either a photo card driving license including an address, or a passport or national ID card supported by a utility bill, which must be under three months old and show their address.

“Operation Tornado is one of a number of measures 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.

“We are hoping all registered scrap metal dealers in the region will sign up to be involved to help fight the stolen metal trade and make it more difficult for thieves to make money by targeting our communities for metal.”

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.

“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.

“BMRA also 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.”

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.

Ten people have also died in the past year as a result of metal theft. Whatever the crime, the net result is the same – disruption to everyday life and severe cost to the local and national economy.

Operation Tornado ran in all five North West police force areas, Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire, with the measures rolled out across the region on Wednesday, 9 May.

This day saw a co-ordinated day of action across all forces as police and partners seek to drive home the message that metal theft in any form will not be tolerated.

Detective Chief Inspector Bob Qazi, the lead on metal theft for Cumbria, said “We have been promoting the identification system since March this year and it has been well received by metal dealers across the county.

“This now being launched across the North West will hopefully make it even harder for those who are involved in this criminal activity to go across to another county to sell the metal they have stolen.

“The impact this can have on communities can be devastating and it is important that we make is as difficult as possible for criminals to cash in.”

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