POLICE have taken part in a week-long operation targeting metal theft, heritage crime and fly-tipping in York and North Yorkshire.

The operation was part of a wider national clampdown, dubbed Operation Tornado II, which has seen forces across the country focus on metal theft and waste crime over the past week.

This kind of crime is a national issue, but North Yorkshire’s isolated, rural areas are particularly vulnerable to such offending – which is often linked to organised crime.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, international demand for metal was low as construction projects were paused.

However, the prices of metal are beginning to rise once again, threatening an increase of metal theft, particularly in more isolated locations.

Throughout the police operation in North Yorkshire, officers have been targeting unlicensed scrap metal collectors.

On Thursday officers worked with Hambleton District Council and Environment Agency staff at a dedicated vehicle checkpoint in a layby between Northallerton and Darlington.

Officers used police powers to stop vehicles likely to be carrying metal or waste, to check they were all in order.

On Friday officers visited scrap metal dealers, to ensure relevant legislation was being complied with.

Officers have also focused their attention on fly-tipping.

Detective Superintendent Fran Naughton said: “Together with our partners, we are committed to tackling all forms of this crime.

“Everyone needs to be vigilant of a resurgence of metal theft based on supply and demand, so we are working with our partners to share intelligence and coordinate our activity.

"That involves working together to respond through prevention, education and enforcement, and detecting and disrupting those committing these crimes.

“Waste crime like fly-tipping blights farmland, roadsides and other private land.

"It’s a source of pollution, a potential danger to public health and a hazard to wildlife.

"It also undermines legitimate waste businesses who operate within the law. Again, by working together with local authorities, we can tackle this issue, and take action against those responsible."