SCRAP dealers in Worcestershire have signed up to a new scheme to tackle metal theft.

West Mercia Police has launched a voluntary scheme and invited scrap dealers in its force area to join. All 11 dealers in Malvern Hills, Worcester and Wychavon have agreed to take part in the initiative.

They are now committed to only accept items accompanied with photo ID and proof of address, which will be logged along with the registration number of any vehicles and the weight and description of metal items bought.

Posters will also have been put up to educate customers about the scheme and let them know that their goods will not be accepted without the right ID. Yesterday police officers, along with partners from BT, the Environment Agency and local authorities visited many of the dealers to conduct spot checks and make sure they are abiding by the scheme.

Sergeant Chris Rhodes, who organised the checks, said: “Along with our partner agencies in south Worcestershire, we have been working with local scrap dealers for some time to make sure they are all operating within the law, so we are pleased to have the opportunity to work within a national scheme. Rogue scrap dealers drive demand for stolen metal and in other areas where a scheme has been introduced they have seen significant falls in metal thefts.

“Rogue dealers also tarnish the reputation of those who do and want to work within the law and it gives us greater confidence that those who are participating in the scheme are not handling stolen metal.

“We have seen mixed results on today’s visits – nearly all have complied with the requirements of the scheme and strict advice has been given to those who haven’t.

“We would like to thank those working at the yards for their efforts, but anyone found not to be complying will suffer increased scrutiny from the police and our partners.”

The West Mercia scheme prepares the local scrap industry ahead of news that legislative change is on the way.

Changes to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act will outlaw all cash transactions at metal recycling yards across England and Wales and there will be a significant increase in fines for those dealers who fail to abide by the rules.