Government, police and industry leaders have welcomed a trial scheme to help combat metal theft.
Home Office minister Lord Henley joined senior police officers to launch Operation Tornado by which participating scrap yards in the north east of England will require sellers to provide photo ID and proof of address.
The trial is was initiated by the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Home Office, British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), British Transport Police (BTP), and Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland Police.
Ian Hetherington, director general at the BMRA, called on authorities to target thieves and unlicensed dealers rather than banning cash from the trade which, he claimed, would increase illegal activity.
Hetherington gave his backing to Operation Tornado: “The measures being trialed are sensible and provide the basis for a reform of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act – which we all want.
“It’s important to note that many of the problems encountered by legitimate metal recyclers lie with the ineffective enforcement of existing regulations and the proliferation of the illegal, unregulated trade, and not with the majority who operate highly regulated, licensed and permitted sites.
“This is an opportunity for the metals recycling industry to trial some of the strengthened measures being adopted coupled with what we hope will be robust police efforts to prevent legitimate business being diverted away from those applying the Operation Tornado measures and into the hands of non-compliant operators.
Lord Henley said scrap metal legislation from the 1960s is no longer sufficient to deal with “increasingly organised crime”. He said government is working with the industry and examining changes to the law.
“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.”