With the recent introduction of new laws on scrap metal licensing, West Midlands Police, alongside Warwickshire, West Mercia and Staffordshire forces, are clamping down on dealers across the West Midlands with Operation Steel.
The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 came into force in October and states that all scrap metal traders and collectors need to apply for licences from the local authority in the areas in which they operate.
It is now illegal for any scrap metal dealer to collect, buy or sell scrap metal without a licence from the local council. A copy of the licence must be on display in their vehicle.
Now traders have had two months to acquire a licence, forces across the West Midlands will be actively seeking out those without one.
Inspector Jamie Checkland, regional co-ordinator of the metal theft taskforce, said: “These laws should see the rogue collectors eradicated from our streets.
“No one can simply hand over their items for scrap without also giving the collector their details. The laws mean that we should be able to trace the origin of everything that is taken as scrap meaning that thefts and illicit dealing should be a thing of the past.”
Insp Checkland added: “Traders have had two months to ensure they are complying with the new legislation to properly apply and receive their appropriate documentation but now we will begin the next phase, where we are actively checking on those suspected of failing to comply with the law.
“The many legitimate, law abiding scrap metal dealers who operate within the West Midlands will no doubt have already received their licences and are trading well within the laws of the land, but it is that minority who flout the legislation that we will be taking out of operation.”
Metal theft continues to reduce across the region, with offences so far this year reduced by more than 21 per cent − meaning there are hundreds of fewer victims of such crimes in 2013 compared with the previous year.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones added: “I welcome this concerted action by West Midlands Police and partners.
“The West Midlands has suffered more than other parts of the country, with high levels of metal theft, including theft from the rail transport infrastructure such as power cables and signalling equipment and the consequent detrimental effect on our rail services. By working with partner agencies across the public and private sectors, we can use new powers and regulations to clamp down on metal theft.”
If you have any information or concerns regarding metal theft, please call West Midlands Police (or West Mercia) on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111