The SmartWater Group are to operate a National Intelligence Portal for the police and critical infrastructure companies, tracking Organised Crime Gangs (OCG’s) across the UK. In particular, the new shared national database and crime mapping system will tackle metal crime and national infrastructure crime.
Transport, power and telecommunications, are some of the sectors severely affected by metal crime. Heritage sites, including places of worship, are also increasingly being targeted with metal stolen from roofs and altars, causing irreparable structural damage and historic loss.
Members of the National Metal Theft Group, which includes BT Openreach, National Grid, Network Rail and many others, will be contributing their crime data to analysts operating within the Centre for Infrastructure and Asset Protection (CIAP), a division of the SmartWater Group.
SmartWater Group’s analysts will be issuing security alerts to the members, to warn organisations of developing crime patterns ahead of any attack on the national infrastructure. Members will now have the ability to see where crime is happening across the UK, not just for their organisation. The tools allow organisations to analyse the details and put measures in place to prevent crime happening in their industry. SmartWater Group will also be working with the police on special operations aimed at identifying offenders to facilitate their arrest and subsequent conviction.
Mark Cleland, British Transport Police Superintendent and National Lead for Metal Crime, commented:
“Thanks to the support of The SmartWater Group, we have taken the next step in creating the ability to map out criminality across the UK, enabling partners and law enforcement agencies to target those who present the greatest risk. These tools provide a greater pool of intelligence and a bigger picture of offender behaviour, allowing us to join the dots and deliver impact evidence to courts for sentencing. By taking a multi-agency approach, we are maximising our ability to identify those who are attacking our national infrastructure and historical buildings, making it harder for them to sell stolen metal and gain from their activities.”
Phil Cleary, CEO of the SmartWater Group, added:
“We are really excited to demonstrate a number of innovative tools that will support national infrastructure and policing in tackling crime across the UK. SmartWater Group and our partners are working together to form a national infrastructure crime reduction partnership that will drive activity to disrupt crime and reduce disruption of the UK’s important infrastructure. We are proud to be part of this work in supporting the country during these difficult times.”
The introduction of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, which brought in strict licensing requirements on dealers and identity checks for people selling scrap metal, contributed to a significant decrease in metal theft. Despite this, crime has continued with some offenders taking advantage of a quieter network during the Covid-19 pandemic to target isolated locations.
British Transport Police (BTP) recently led a national week of action, involving more than 45 other organisations, in which the force provided training for officers from local forces, council staff and industry workers.
Officers made more than 500 visits to scrap metal dealers, vehicle dismantlers and illegal waste sites. More than 1,000 vehicles were stopped and there were 29 arrests across eight force areas, as well as 129 matters settled without prosecution, with 150 other alleged offences under investigation. 16 loads of stolen property were also recovered.