Spot checks on scrapyards to beat metal thefts

OPERATION LEADER: Sergeant Andy Sutherland, of Durham Constabulary.
OPERATION LEADER: Sergeant Andy Sutherland, of Durham Constabulary.
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SPOT checks have been carried out on scrapyards to ensure they are sticking to new rules which outlawed cash transactions.

Since December, yards must now use cheques or electronic funds to make payments, and could lose their operating licence if they don’t.

This week, officers from Durham Police’s road policing unit have been making unscheduled visits to the 40 operators in the county, to check the regulations are being observed.

The Operation Hansel team, which deals with metal-related offences, has reported no breaches at the yards visited so far.

Sergeant Andy Sutherland said: “We have been pleased to see the cashless regulations are being observed and according to the operators, business has not suffered as a result. As well as going into the yards themselves we will be checking with itinerant traders to test for their compliance with the new regulations.”

Police said Operation Hansel has played a major part in reducing metal thefts in County Durham by 75 per cent over the last 18 months.

It has seen police take action against the criminals, and bring scrap metal dealers and recycling depots on board as partners in the campaign.

Sgt Sutherland added: “Despite the weather we have been able to carry out all the site visits we had planned and over the remaining days we will complete our schedule.

“Metal-related crime remains a major problem, but with the new regulations in force and co-ordinated police action across the UK, we are beginning to see some real progress.”

As well as the cashless transactions measures, yard operators are also now required to carry out checks on the identity of anyone bringing in items for disposal.

The Government is planning further steps to regulate the industry via the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill, which is going through parliament and expected to be law by the summer.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham