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Metal operation welcomed

Police and the heritage body Historic England joined together for the first time to carry out enforcement action. Operation Crucible saw police around across the country, joined by staff from Historic England, carry out checks on scrap metal dealers. They were checking for illegal activity including:

– Theft and handling of stolen scrap metal
– Operating without a licence or outside of their licence
– Buyers making cash payments or sellers taking cash payments in exchange for scrap metal

Last week saw checks carried out by several forces, including British Transport Police, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, the Metropolitan Police, Essex and Cambridgeshire. They were also joined by UK Border Agency, local authorities, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Trading Standards.

National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Lead for Heritage Crime, Chief Constable Paul Crowther said: “Most scrap metal dealers operate law-abiding businesses. However, we believe there are a minority who continue to flout the law on cashless trading and still pay cash in exchange for scrap metal. This means that legitimate scrap metal dealers are disadvantaged and the actions of a minority give the industry a bad name.

“Paying or taking cash in exchange for scrap metal has to stop. We are working with partners across the entire country and throughout the metals recycling industry to target those who we suspect of flouting the law or operating outside of their licence. We will take action to ensure they comply with the law and we won’t hesitate to take action against people who accept cash payments.

“Our message to criminals who are stealing metal from historic buildings, selling it on and, in the process, devastating communities, is simple. ‘We’re making it harder for you to sell stolen metal and gain from your activities. We will bring you to justice.’”

Mark Harrison, National Policing and Crime Adviser for Historic England, said: “The value of England’s heritage cannot be judged in pounds and pence. The impact of theft on our historic sites and buildings has far-reaching consequences over and above the financial cost of what has been stolen. Heritage crime comes in many forms. When thieves steal metal from protected sites and buildings such as churches, they are stealing from all of us and damaging something which is often irreplaceable.

“By working together with law enforcement agencies, we are maximising our ability to identify those who are attacking our shared cultural heritage.”

Operation Crucible is supported by British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), the trade body for scrap metal dealers, and the Church Buildings Council (CBC), which supports over 16,000 cathedral and church buildings of The Church of England.

Pictured; metal from secured void property.


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