A TRIAL scheme to tackle metal theft has officially begun in the North East.
Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour Reduction Minister Lord Henley travelled to the region last week to officially launch Operation Tornado.
The initiative aims to make it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal through new rules on identification.
Anyone attempting to sell scrap to participating dealers must provide proof of identity by a driving licence photo card, passport or national ID card, supported with a recent utility bill showing their address.
The trial, which is led by the Association of Chief Police Officers, Home Office, British Metals Recycling Association, British Transport Police and Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland Police, will initially run for six months, but could be extended.
Eighty per cent of scrap metal recyclers in the region have signed up to the scheme.
Lord Henley said: “I welcome Operation Tornado and hope that the many legitimate members of the scrap metal recycling industry in the North East will use this opportunity to help us to remove unscrupulous dealers who operate outside the law, or turn a blind eye to stolen material.”
Metal theft has been a problem for some time on railways, but thieves are also looking to other areas, such as power cables. utilities’ pipe work, telecommunications cabling, homes, businesses and catalytic converters from vehicles.
The operation was launched at International Waste Metals in Shildon, County Durham.