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Police sting in Worcester finds drugs and dodgy diesel
VEHICLES were seized and a drugs arrest was made during a police sting operation to target rogue traders and dodgy scrap dealers in Worcester.
The joint operation involved West Mercia Police, Worcestershire Regulatory Services which covers trading standards, the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
The checks were to target metal theft but police and other groups used them as an opportunity to make sure vehicles were roadworthy, taxed, insured and insured, to tighten the grip on criminals and rogue traders and to make sure drivers were not under the influence of drink or drugs.
Jamie Colley, a fair trading officer at Worcestershire Regulatory Services which covers trading standards, said the checks also had a deterrent effect on rogue traders who could make false claims about their credentials.
He said: “Rogue traders get their claws in and they keep going back. We have a number of cases where older people have been repeatedly targeted.
“The vast majority of traders are legitimate but there is a small core of people who just ignore the law. Their purpose is to make money with no thought for the consumer and others in the trade.”
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology was used to check any vehicles of interest to the police with a view to making sure dealers and collectors are complying with the Scrap Metal Dealers Act which came into force on December 1. This means they have to be licensed and to apply for criminal record checks.
One driver (pictured), who declined to be interviewed by your Worcester News, was found by HMRC to be using red diesel in his red Ford Transit Connect which resulted in an immediate fine of £528. Red diesel is subsidised (cutting out the amount of duty to pay) and should only be used in registered agricultural vehicles.
VOSA checks also revealed the driver had no MOT and two bald front tyres which resulted in an immediate prohibition notice. This means VOSA officials did not deem the vehicle roadworthy and the van had to be recovered.
During the course of their checks they found six vehicles with faults and most of the drivers were given “delayed prohibition notices” which means they can drive the vehicle away but they must have an MOT to have the prohibition removed.
The operation was led by Sgt Helen Wain and involved seven PCs, 12 PCSOs, police cadets, an ANPR team. Scrap yards were also checked in Worcestershire by a sergeant and two PCs. The location was chosen because it is close to the M5 and is also at the centre of routes to Evesham, Droitwich and Worcester.
Spot checks: what they found
* Six VOSA prohibition notices issued and two VOSA advice notices
* Two vehicles seized for document offences
* One vehicle seized for overweight load
* One on the spot fine (£528) for red diesel
* One report file for construction and use and no MOT offences (vehicle taken off road)
* Three notifications to DVLA for no tax
* One arrest for possession of cannabis
* One report file for an offence of making off without payment committed earlier in the day on a neighbouring force area
* A number of breath tests (all negative).
Scrap metal: the facts
* Between April 1 and December 1 this year there were 441 metal thefts across West Mercia (lead from roofs, power cables, manhole covers etc), plus 374 catalytic converters stolen (over 800 metal thefts in total).
* The conviction rate is low because metal thefts are very hard to detect.
* In particular, officers are looking out for dealers and collectors not complying with the new Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 which introduced a more rigorous licensing regime for scrap metal collectors, scrap metal sites and motor salvage operators, requiring them to apply for criminal records checks, and for a site or collectors licence.
* Mobile collectors now have to be licensed in each of the local authorities covering the area where they collect, and display their collectors licence on their vehicle, as well as their waste carriers licence and appropriate insurance to carry waste products. The act, implemented on October 1, and enforced from December 1, also extends an existing ban on cash payments for scrap metal, and requires anyone buying scrap metal to verify the identity of the seller.
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