NEW laws to control the sale and collection of scrap metal are set to be endorsed by South Tyneside licensing bosses this week.
The changes aim to make it more difficult for criminals to trade in stolen metal.
Key to the reforms is the closure of a loophole allowing itinerant traders to continue to pay cash for scrap metal.
South Tyneside Council will also now become responsible for issuing licences to trade in scrap metal, with annual fees ranging from £302 for each new application site and £142 for a scrap metal collector.
The borough has approximately 22 operators who will be affected by the introduction of the new legislation.
And last year, there were 270 metal thefts in South Tyneside – a rate of about 25 a month.
The reforms come after a pilot scheme was introduced in the Northumbria and Durham Police areas which asked yards to keep proof of identity from anyone they buy metal from.
Checks were run under the scheme Operation Tornado, which was launched with the support of British Transport Police, the British Metals Recycling Association, Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office.
Nationally, metal theft driven by a rise in commodity prices costs the economy as much as £260m a year, according to recent estimates.
It can result in the disruption to energy supplies, transport and telecommunications, as well as the theft of manhole covers and the desecration of war memorials.
Earlier this year, hundreds of pounds worth of scrap was stolen in a raid at Boldon Colliery when two bags of metal were removed from the yard at the Balfour Beatty site in Brooklands Way.
Members of the council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee will consider the changes when they meet in South Shields Town Hall from 10am on Friday.
A report to the committee says: “The new legislation has been introduced in response to the increasing value of metal, which has, in turn, caused a growing problem with metal thefts throughout the UK.”