The police have made 400 arrests this year related to metal theft and seen crime levels decrease as a result of a voluntary scheme for scrap dealers, a senior officer has announced.
Deputy chief constable Paul Crowther said police had also seized 200 vehicles in relation to arrests.
He highlighted some of the problems associated with crackings down on the thefts, including stolen metal being sold for cash, sometimes within an hour of being taken, to yards which were not licensed.
“We cannot take any closure action against those operating outside the law, so it is imperative that new legislation is introduced to give police officers the necessary tools to tackle rogue dealers,” he said.
Crowther also said crime levels had plummeted as a result of Operation Tornado, a voluntary scheme which requires anyone selling scrap metal to participating dealers to provide photographic proof of identity.
Operation Tornado was launched earlier this year in the north-east of England and has now been rolled out across the country.
Crowther said early indications from Northumbria, Cleveland and Durham were encouraging.
“Across those three forces there is an average of a 50% drop in crime we think has been largely brought about by Tornado, together with follow up activity,” he added.