A CRACKDOWN on dodgy scrap metal dealers in Sandwell found seven out of 13 sites were operating illegally.

Police and council officials visited businesses across the borough to check they were licensed following a last year’s shake-up in the law.

The seven dealers were given a warning and told how to apply for a licence.

In addition, another scrap metal dealer found to be operating outside the terms of his licence, was given a warning and advice.

And one unlicensed mobile collector had his load seized on site after questioning by police.

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act was introduced to combat scrap metal thefts, which have blighted communities.

Businesses operating without a licence issued by the council face penalties including restrictions, closure and a fine of up £5,000.

Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for highways and environment Councillor Maria Crompton said: “It was disappointing more than half of the businesses visited were not operating with a licence several months after the law was changed.

"Scrap metal dealers who don't operate within the law will be given an opportunity to put things right. Should they fail to heed the advice however, I will support strong enforcement action.

“Our licensing team and the police will carry out further checks in the future to ensure the law is upheld.

"Metal theft was costing hundreds of millions of pounds across the country and the new powers will help us to crack down on illegal trading."

Figures recently reported show metal thefts have fallen faster in Sandwell than anywhere else in the country.