New measures to combat the increasing problem of metal theft are being introduced in the North East
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.
Metal thieves have caused countless problems for 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.
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 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".
"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 remove unscrupulous dealers who operate outside the law.
"We 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."