Nottinghanshire Police are warning criminals that there is no market for stolen metal in across the county.
Operation Tornado has been launched across the East Midlands in a bid to better regulate the scrap metal industry and restrict the movement of stolen metal.
Those wishing to sell metal to participating scrap metal dealers must now provide proof of their identity by producing either a photo card driving licence, including an address, a passport, or a national ID card supported with a utility bill, which must be less than three-months-old and show their address.
Chief Inspector Sean Anderson, Force and region lead for metal theft reduction, said: “The Force’s Metallica team has put in a lot of work over a number of weeks, visiting all 52 registered scrap metal dealers in Nottinghamshire to gain their compliance with the Operation Tornado guidelines.
“Fifteen have already signed up to the scheme, with most keen for reform. The new standards should be a breath of fresh air for the scrap metal industry, which is governed by some archaic laws and an all too often ‘no questions asked’ approach.
“We will continue to focus on the few who remain reluctant, encouraging them to sign up in the next few weeks.
“The requirements are being put into place not to inhibit those who operate legitimate businesses, but to take the wind from the sails of those unscrupulous dealers who operate outside the law.
“They will also have a significant impact on the ability of local criminals to convert their stolen metal to cash because we remove the avenues to sell metal on.”
Sims Metal Management in Dunkirk, Nottingham, operates in line with the Operation Tornado requirements.
Site Manager Justin Adcock said: “As the world’s largest recycling company, and a responsible operator, we already implement industry leading security policies of the very highest standards and well beyond the requirements of the 1964 Scrap Metal Dealers Act. These include asking for photographic proof of identity, proof of address, CCTV and not accepting material brought into the yard on foot or by taxi.
“We are more than happy to assist police in their campaign to stamp out the scourge of metal theft as we believe this can only happen if all scrap metal dealers in the area agree to operate to the same high standards as ourselves so that the criminals have nowhere to go.”
Operation Tornado is being implemented by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Home Office, the British Transport Police (BTP) and the five police forces of the East Midlands (Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and Northamptonshire), in collaboration with their regional partners in government and industry.
Nottinghamshire BTP Chief Inspector Robin Edwards said: “We are hoping that all registered scrap metal dealers in the region will sign up to the scheme.
“A key part of the 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.”
BTP Deputy Chief Constable Paul Crowther, chair of the ACPO Metal Theft Working Group, said: “Scrap metal dealers have a responsibility to ensure the metal they buy is from legitimate sources and that they keep appropriate records.
“It is not acceptable to turn a blind eye to stolen metal. By helping criminals to turn stolen metal into cash, often quickly and easily, dealers are fuelling this crime which is blighting our infrastructure and disrupting the lives of ordinary people on a daily basis.”
Lord Henley, Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention and Antisocial Behaviour Reduction, said: “Metal 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.
“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 what immediate steps can be taken to better identify rogue metal dealers.