Police say they have already been busy enforcing new scrap metal laws in a “day of action” directly after they came into effect on 1 December.
The National Metal Theft Task Force co-ordinated the raids across the country. In all 119 officers across all seven of British Transport Police regions visited 61 scrap metal dealers’ yards.
They made four arrests for cable theft and suspicion of cable theft. Property seized included two vehicles and 40 railway chairs.
Inspector Jamie Checkland, task force regional co-ordinator, said: “Traders have had two months to ensure they are complying with the new legislation to properly apply and receive their appropriate documentation but now we will begin the next phase, where we are actively checking on those suspected of failing to comply with the law.”
In the West Midlands, British Transport Police officers stopped two mobile collectors for not having a record of their transactions. One collector did not have a valid licence. Both were reported for the offences and had their metal items seized.
West Yorkshire Police wrote to local traders warning them of a “new process” in dealing with itinerant collectors who operated outside the law.
The letter said law-breakers would have their collected metal seized and would be asked which scrap dealer they were intending to use. The dealer would then pay West Yorkshire Police for the items.
The letter read: “We could have disposed of it ourselves, but by allowing the collector to decide where the metal is sold we believe we have chosen the fairest option.”
The money gathered will be used to fund community initiatives.
But councils have struggled to issue licences to dealers, according to the British Metals Recycling Association and the Local Government Association.
Dealers in Kirklees were among those visited by enforcement teams. Mark Schofield, director of scrap metal dealer JB Schofield, told MRW: “None of my Kirklees customers have got their licence as far as I know.”