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Police checks costing businesses

Medium-sized businesses in East London are losing up to £20,000 a day due to increased police checks in scrap yards, it has been claimed.

Following a spate of thefts that included a number of statues made from metals with escalating value, a more watchful eye is being cast over those that process such materials.

With pieces such as Henry Moores Reclining Figure, worth around £10 million thought to have been taken to melt down for scrap, the amounts involved illustrate why the matter is being taken so seriously.

London-based Jighand manager Patsy Cornwell said: Recently, the police and Environment Agency (EA) have been coming into yards, shutting them down so that they lose a days business but not finding anything.

The first time they came in here they said they were looking for stolen vehicles, but didnt even bother looking at our paperwork before they walked away empty-handed. Its a worry because without us processing it, the metal will just end up on the street.

Cornwells concern is that when a yard is checked, the doors are locked and any customer who is inside at the time will have to stay on site until it finishes, sometimes a number of hours.

While this holds them up, customers wanting to deposit metal are unable to enter either, meaning that they could also take their custom elsewhere.

She added: It wont be long before they decide not to come here. After they leave, the police stay at the end of the estate for the rest of the day checking all vehicles coming in. Its happened to us twice recently and every time it happens, we lose a days work, about £20,000.

I understand why they do it, but we are helpful and show them the paperwork, but they dont have to come here with 15-20 officers and shut us down for the day.

While Jighand has never been in any trouble with the law, Cornwell believes such checks will set doubts in peoples minds over their credentials, tarnishing the companys reputation.

Its happening a lot to medium-sized businesses in the East End of London. If people keep getting turned away because we are closed for spot-checks, they may take their business elsewhere.

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