Deputy Commissioner Proud of Force's Achievements in Reducing Metal Theft

1st October 2013

The new Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 comes into force today, Tuesday October 1st, and means that dealers, when applying for a license from the local authority, will have to prove they are a fit and proper person before they are issued with one.

Additionally, ID cards will be issued and will need to be displayed in the collector's van and records of transactions will need to be kept for three years.

The day of action saw scrap metal dealers stopped across Gwent and, while the focus was raising awareness of the new legislation, the dealers were also checked that they complied with the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964.

Targeting metal theft is a priority for Gwent Police and, as such, in April 2011 Operation Ignite - a Gwent specific operation- was established, it later became part of a national initiative called Operation Tornado. Throughout the operation the Force has worked in partnership with various agencies including VOSA, Department of Work and Pensions, British Transport Police, the Environment Agency, HMRC and energy and utility companies.

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Paul Harris attended the operation: "Nationally, Operation Tornado recognised it needed a clear and positive enforcement policy to deal with rogue mobile collectors and I'm proud Gwent Police has been highlighted as a model of best practice and is leading the way in implementing processes to enforce the law.

Metal theft has a massive impact on the community and as such we cannot be complacent. Gwent Police will continue to be innovative and determined in tackling this crime." Yesterday's action day resulted in:

  • £358 worth of scrap metal seized
  • Five people reported for non-compliant record keeping
  • Four £500 fines issued and four vehicles seized for running on red diesel
  • Two vehicles seized for no insurance
  • One person reported for driving without a licence
  • Fixed Penalty Notice issued for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition
  • Fixed Penalty Notice issued for driving without a seatbelt
  • 41 VOSA prohibitions issued for vehicle defect offences
  • Seven people prosecuted by Department of Work and Pensions for fraudulent benefit claims
  • Eight people prosecuted by Natural Resources Wales for waste transfer offences

    The day was also attended by partner organisations as well as other police forces who were observing the operation following Gwent being nationally recognised as a model of best practice.

    Some of the methods used have been implemented into the new legislation: in 2011 Gwent Police trialled a NO ID NO CASH scheme whereby scrap yards would ask for formal ID for persons dropping off metal.

    Additionally scrap metal collectors were required to keep records allowing police to fully use their powers to put collectors on the spot and ask them to account for where metal came from.

    Sergeant Simon Clark ran yesterday's operation: "Tornado has had a major effect in disrupting those stealing, selling and buying metal across Gwent.

    The results speak for themselves, so far over 200 people have been arrested for a variety of offences; 23 people have been reported for summons and 75 vehicles have been seized. We have closed down two scrap yards and issued warnings to a further ten, recovered six stolen vehicles and reported 48 people to the Department of Work and Pensions for working whilst claiming unemployment or disability benefits.

    Additionally, 509 Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued and over £100,000 worth of metal and cable recovered. "This year alone, Gwent Police has seen a 70% reduction in metal theft. Our work is far from over though and as long as metal prices remain high there will be criminals who will risk their lives and the lives of others to steal it. Through enforcement, prevention and publicity work we are turning the tide and the number of incidents is falling. However, we won't become complacent and will remain committed to targeting those involved."