A COUNCIL environmental warden has asked people for help to identify areas where rubbish bags are regularly slashed open by people looking for ways to make money.

Darlington Borough Council’s environmental wardens have been patrolling alleyways around the town to watch out for people cutting open black bags and to clean up the mess afterwards, but say it is becoming a dangerous job during the dark nights.

John Headman, a council warden, said: “We will come out early in order to tackle the bag slashing but we don’t want to be in a back lane in the dark with someone who may well have some sort of weapon with them. That’s an issue for us and we have to be aware of that.

“People throw all sorts of things out in the rubbish and this is attracting the bag slashers to see what they can find. There might be a bit of metal in there. However small that amount is, they’ll take it out.”

It is thought the bag slashing problem is also due to people putting their bags out well before bin day.

The wardens have asked people to put their rubbish out from 7pm onwards on the evening before bin collection.

Durham Police has reported a sharp rise in the number of metal thefts in Darlington in recent weeks, which police believe is connected to changes to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, which came into force today (Monday, December 3).

Dealers used to pay cash in hand for metal, but will now only be able to pay with a cheque or through a bank account, with the aim of cracking down on casual metal thieves.

Mr Headman said: “Obviously I don’t expect people to tackle these bag slashers. If it’s dark do not challenge somebody, because you never know what they’re carrying.

“People must be seeing people cutting the bags open. Help is what I need to identify all of these people. It’s information that I’m after.”

Anyone with information on the bag slashing should call the council on 01325-380651 or the police on the non-emergency number 101. If the bag slashing is happening at the time, call 999.