More legal powers and the success of Operation Tornado are making life tougher for cable thieves on the railway.
Operation Tornado makes it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal through an identification scheme. Pioneered in the north east, Operation Tornado is being rolled out in the south of England this summer. In further developments rail chiefs have welcomed a bill placed before the House of Commons by Richard Ottaway MP aimed at cracking down on the trade in stolen metal.
Says Michael Roberts, ceo ATOC, ‘The proposed powers (in the bill) will send a clear signal to criminals and rogue traders that dealing in stolen metal could lead to unlimited fines, removal of operating licences and even long terms in prison. Giving police and local councils the power to search and investigate scrap yards suspected of dealing in stolen metal, and if necessary close them down, will help stop metal theft in its tracks.’
BTP’s deputy chief constable, Paul Crowther, agrees. ‘Tornado is proving very successful so far. For instance, on the railways in the north east we have seen a 69% fall in metal theft. However, this needs to be sustainable in the long term and Tornado is impacting mainly on scrap dealers who are working within the law.
‘We still need the powers to close down those few unscrupulous dealers who operate outside the law. I welcome Richard Ottaway’s Private Member’s Bill….It is important we have a robust regulatory framework alongside police powers to impact effectively and permanently on this crime, which has blighted communities across Britain for too long.’
Under Operation Tornado anyone hoping to sell scrap metal to participating metal recyclers in the south of England and Wales will be required to provide proof of their identity, either a photo card driving licence including an address, or a passport or national ID card supported by a utility bill, which must be under three months old and show their address.
Thefts of cable on the rail system in BTP’s North Eastern Area since April this year are down 69% from 248, to 78. Almost half of these (38) involved live operational cable.