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Operation targets travelling criminals on North Yorkshire’s roads

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A major operation targeting travelling criminals, involving six police forces and dozens of local volunteers across the north of England, resulted in 95 vehicles being stopped and checked in North Yorkshire.

More than 40 North Yorkshire Police officers, including Special Constables, worked alongside colleagues from Durham, Cleveland, Cumbria, Northumbria and Scotland forces for ‘Operation Checkpoint’ yesterday (Tuesday 3 February).

In North Yorkshire, they were also joined by more than 40 farmers and Watch volunteers, representing Borderwatch, Thirsk Valewatch, Girsby Watch, Bedale Watch and Stokesley Watch.

The operation is the fifth of its kind since January 2014 and was designed to gather intelligence about travelling criminals, disrupt their use of the road network and bring anyone found breaking the law to justice.

The operation was staged from yesterday afternoon into the early hours of today with the various forces adapting the start and finish times to suit local needs.

Durham Constabulary led the latest event, which was tailored to work with the well-established, cross-border Farmwatch operations which are organised several times a year.

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.

North Yorkshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Paul Kennedy, who is also the Association of Chief Police Officer’s lead for ANPR, said: “We recognise that rural communities face particular issues, and this operation goes hand-in-hand with our existing Operation Hawk, which actively targets travelling and cross-border criminals with the aim of protecting people and property in remote and vulnerable locations.

“With the excellent support of dozens of Watch volunteers, we were able to maximize their local knowledge across hundreds of square miles, directing officers to key points of interest and suspicious activity.

“The operation also gives us the opportunity to provide reassurance in rural areas and brief farmers about the latest crime trends and security advice.

“By joining together with neighbouring police forces, our capability and opportunities to gather information and disrupt criminals are greatly enhanced. We look forward to more collaborative operations in the future and my thanks goes to all forces who have taken part.”

In North Yorkshire, four drivers were issued with fixed penalty notices for various offences including no MOT, defective tyres and not wearing a seatbelt. In addition, a quantity of drugs were seized and a cannabis warning issued following a search of a suspicious vehicle.

Elsewhere, two vehicles were seized in the Northumbria Police area, one for no insurance and the other as it was suspected of being used in crime. Northumbria  arrested one man for  vehicle theft and recovered a chainsaw believed to be stolen property. Cleveland Police made an arrest for a burglary and cable theft in Guisborough.

In a number of areas snow and freezing conditions hampered visibility and prevented officers stopping as many vehicles as they had wished. They were also called to other incidents during the night – for example, officers in North Yorkshire stopped to assist a member of the public whose car had ended up in a ditch.

Last modified: May 9, 2018