- Security TWENTY
- Women in Security
British Transport Police (BTP) and other officers across the country recently carried out a series of linked operations to enforce recent changes to the laws governing scrap metal dealing across England and Wales.
BTP joined forces with Kent and Greater Manchester Police and other agencies, including VOSA and Border Force, seeking to tackle metal and cable theft across the country.
Amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act at the end of 2012 outlawed cash transactions for metal at recycling yards, a measure to curtail the market for stolen metal.
In the latest metal theft week of action (20-24 May), many BTP officers usually concerned with stopping cable-related crime on the rail network took to the highways as part of a multi-agency road policing operation, the first on Tuesday, 21 May.
Between 6am and 2pm on Tuesday, 21 May, officers from the National Metal Theft Intelligence Unit worked with Kent Police’s roads policing team, as well as VOSA and Border Force at a location close to the A2 in Faversham, to detect offences and disrupt criminality.
On the day, officers stopped and checked a total of 50 vehicles at the roadside to ensure those carrying large loads in the direction of the ports at Dover were fully in compliance with criminal and environmental legislation, and to identify potential breaches of cashless trading.
Several vehicles were impounded by Kent Police for traffic offences. Intelligence was also gathered in relation to Eastern European nationals travelling out of the country using vans.
Officers from Kent Police simultaneously undertook an Operation Mermaid day of action, the national initiative aimed at checking goods vehicles focusing on all forms of vehicle-enabled criminality, ensuring all vehicles stopped were roadworthy, with up-to-date insurance, road tax and MOT certificates.
A number of local operations were carried out across the country, including in the north west, where BTP and Greater Manchester Police executed 29 warrants at metal recyclers and houses across Greater Manchester.
As a result 22 people were arrested on suspicion of a number of offences and a quantity of suspected stolen cable and other metal was recovered. This operation, which involved more than 500 officers from GMP and BTP, marked the culmination of a 12-month intelligence led investigation.
On Thursday, May 23, BTP officers carried out a joint operation with Calor Gas, the Environment Agency, AVCIS and Border Force to identify and seize shipping containers holding LPG cylinders, which were being illegally transported via the docks in the Felixstowe area.
Calor’s Business Controls Manager, Mark Hobday, said: “This activity resulted in the recovery of 435 LPG cylinders and two containers being taken for further investigation for possible breaches in environment legislation. Calor welcomes this joint operation and will continue to work closely with the National Metal Theft Unit regarding the ongoing problem of the illegal exportation of its cylinders.”
Detective Chief Inspector Gill Murray, from BTP’s Fusion metal theft intelligence unit, welcomed the activity, and emphasised BTP’s focus does not just lie on the rail system.
She said: “These events were well-executed, thoroughly planned operations that delivered a significant message that thieves who view metal as a viable target and steal from our infrastructure and communities can expect to be caught.
“Since the new legislation has made it easier to trace thieves at the point metal is stolen, we are switching our attention and expertise to the methods used to transport material
“Days of action like these, carried out with coordinated police and partner working, are vitally important in both detecting offences and closing gaps in intelligence gaps regarding the exportation of stolen metal.”
“It is encouraging to see so many agencies across several industries working together to share intelligence, and it makes sense for BTP, with its extensive experience in investigating cable theft, to take the lead in such matters.”