THE time has now come to clamp down on rogue metal dealers, according to Calder Valley’s MP Craig Whittaker.
Mr Whittaker was among nine MPs who asked during a debate in the House of Commons for tough new laws to stop the scourge of metal thieves.
The rising cost of metal seems to the reason behind the epidemic and despite police taking firm action, thousands of pounds worth of damage is still being caused to homes, businesses, railways, schools and churches across the borough.
“Calder Valley private and social landlords have reported to me the rising number of instances of houses in between tenancies being totally ripped apart - including water pipes, gas pipes and, indeed, electric wiring, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage,” said Mr Whittaker.
He has been appalled by the scale of the criminality involved as many of his constituents who have contacted him over recent months.
The Tory MP asked Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Office, James Brokenshire, if he agreed that “the time has now come for legislation to clamp down on rogue metal dealers”.
Mr Brokenshire replied: “The Government do not legislate lightly and has undertaker a range of work to tackle metal theft through non-legislative means.
However, we have now reached the stage where the only conclusion is that new legislation is needed to tackle metal theft.
“We are therefore in discussion with other departments to agree on the most appropriate option for bringing these changes forward.”
Police have been carrying out a series of operations to tackle metal thieves, stepping up patrols and working with other organisations to visit scrap metal dealers to check if they have been approached by anyone suspicious.
Only last week officers from the Lower Valley Neighbourhood Policing Team joined forces with Wyke Neighbourhood Policing Team to target light commercial vehicles on the boarder with Calderdale and Bradford.
These resulted in one man being arrested on warrant and £700 in fines being collected, one man was reported for summons, a vehicle was seized and three tickets were issued.
There was also three enforcement notices for defective parts, and one man was given a cannabis caution.
Sergeant Dean Maddocks, from the Lower Valley NPT who led the operation, said: “This was a targeted day of action based on previous intelligence, to deny criminals the use of the roads, make sure vehicles were in a roadworthy condition and those transporting scrap metals had the necessary permits in place.”
West Yorkshire Police has also held a national day of action where 26 waste trader site visits were conducted, four arrests were made for drug offences and theft from a shop, 114 vehicles were stopped and checked with 45 being checked for red diesel and officers visited individuals suspected of metal theft and warned them of continuing efforts to combat this type of crime.
Chief Inspector Maboob Hussain of the Force’s Local Policing Department, said: “Working together on initiatives such as this will put pressure on those who are stealing metal in the first place and also on unscrupulous scrap metal dealers.”
Police would still urge the public to report any suspicious activity by calling 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.