ROGUE scrap metal dealers were targeted in Darlington as part of a Tees Valley-wide crackdown on the practice.

A total of 15 suspicious vehicles were stopped across the area and two in Darlington had such serious defects they were each served with prohibition notices to take them off the road immediately.

Licensing, trading standards and civic enforcement staff joined forces with officers from Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions to raise awareness and tackle illegal scrap metal dealers.

Suspicious vehicles were stopped and the driver, vehicle and any materials it was carrying were checked. Drivers were also asked to account for all scrap metal they carried, and show their licence to collect it.

Other issues identified during the week-long operation included two individuals who were collecting scrap metal without a licence from any of the local authorities; a driver with no insurance, one vehicle with no road tax, one vehicle with no MOT, lack of record-keeping, breaches of consumer protection regulations, no waste carrier licence and one collector was issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice for having an insecure load.

Investigations are now continuing in relation to several of the individuals stopped during the operation with a view to further action being taken in the courts, which could lead to fines of up to £5,000 for anyone found guilty of collecting scrap metal without a licence.

Councillor Jonathan Dulston, Darlington Borough Council’s Cabinet member for community safety, said: “We are pleased with how Operation Haddock went and working together we’ve been able to identify several rogue scrap metal collectors who are now subject to further inquiries. We would once again remind operators and collectors of their legal obligations and we will be carrying out further joint operations of this kind in the future. We would also remind residents to only give scrap metal or waste to a licensed operator."