Rural operation targets travelling criminals

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Police in Northumberland teamed up with other forces to target travelling criminals for an operation which took place from yesterday into the early hours of this morning.

The operation, involving Northumbria, Durham, Cleveland, Cumbria and North Yorkshire police forces, targeted travelling criminals across the north of England and the Borders and resulted in 270 vehicles being stopped, seven arrests, one drug recovery, £10,000 in cash seized, nine vehicles seized and 17 motorists dealt with for a variety of offences.

More than 100 officers from Northumbria, North Yorkshire, Durham, Cleveland and Cumbria, along with colleagues from partner agencies and volunteers, took part in Operation Checkpoint from yesterday into the early hours of this morning, with the various forces targeting their resources in rural areas where travelling criminals commit crime and disrupt communities.

The operation is the seventh of its kind over the past two years and is designed to gather intelligence about travelling criminals, disrupt their use of the road network, bring anyone found breaking the law to justice and reassure local rural communities that police are tackling rural crime.

The operation included support from Farmwatch volunteers, some of whom voluntarily joined officers in being out in rural locations looking out for suspicious vehicles. Police tactics included the widespread use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to target vehicles suspected of being connected to crime, as well as targeting vehicles seen in suspicious circumstances.

Superintendent Mick Paterson, of Northumbria Police, said: “Our officers are proud to help keep our communities safe and protect property from criminals who travel to Northumberland.

“We are committed to ensure that rural crime is tackled as we know how the effect it has on victims. Working together with other forces, partner agencies and our communities helps us to continue to gather intelligence about suspected travelling criminals. By stopping and checking vehicles, we are taking action to not just disrupt their criminal activities, but also make sure we continue to identify offenders and deal with them.

“We know that some people are willing to travel many miles to come to Northumberland to commit crime. This is why we have carried out this latest operation with other northern forces. Operation Checkpoint also brings a highly visible policing presence to the area and reassures local communities that we continue to tackle this type of crime.

“This latest operation is part of our ongoing fight against travelling criminals. Last year saw us arrest a gang responsible for 95 offences throughout the north of England and it was Northumbria Police who were proud to lead the way to their capture and imprisonment. “Although these areas in Northumberland have low crime levels, we still ask people to please be vigilant and report any suspicious people or vehicle at any time of day or night.”

In Northumberland, there were 64 vehicles stopped and checked. Although no arrests were made, two vehicles and drivers were dealt with for motoring offences and two taxis dealt with for licensing issues.

Anyone with any information about crime in Northumberland should contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.