Police officers and PCSOs from the North Yorkshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Durham, Cleveland and Northumbria forces worked alongside volunteer watch teams for Operation Checkpoint on the night of Tuesday, 11 February.
Operation Checkpoint first ran in January 2014, and remains the largest operation of its kind in the country. The forces involved share intelligence and information and patrol across force boundaries to target criminals, disrupting their use of the road network in rural areas and bringing anyone found breaking the law to justice.
During Checkpoint deployments – the latest of which ran from the evening of 11 February into the early hours of 12 February – police use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to locate vehicles suspected of being connected to crime, and target vehicles seen in suspicious circumstances.
Taking North Yorkshire as an example in detail and looking at the impact of the Operation, it gives an illustration of the best practice involved and why it makes a difference:
In North Yorkshire, four vehicles were seized by police, four suspects were arrested, and a number of people found in suspicious circumstances were dispersed from the county. Officers in North Yorkshire were supported by more than 50 Mobile Rural Watch volunteers.
The operation involved officers and PCSOs from the force’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams, Rural Taskforce and Roads Policing Group, alongside 54 Mobile Rural Watch volunteers covering North Craven, Upper Wharfedale, Richmond, Richmondshire, Bedale, Easingwold and Thirsk.
Throughout the night, 26 vehicles were stopped and checked in rural areas.
- At 8.50pm, police received a report of a man shining a torch at barn in a remote, rural area near Skipton. The caller passed a description to officers.
- At 10.30pm, a Renault Megane failed to stop for police in Carleton. It crashed a short time later in Cononley, ending up on its roof. Two suspects ran away, but the driver, a 17-year-old boy, was detained and taken to hospital for treatment. The car was recovered for forensic examination.
- At 9.10pm, police received a report of an Audi car crashed into a hedge near Leyburn. The 40-year-old driver failed a roadside breath test, and was detained and taken to hospital for treatment. Enquiries into the incident are ongoing.
- At 9.50pm, North Yorkshire Police officers located a Mercedes van, previously reported stolen from Middlesbrough, on the A171. It was stopped in Scarborough, and the 33-year-old driver was arrested on suspicion of theft of a motor vehicle, and handed over to Cleveland Police.
- At 10.55pm, an Audi car with three 18-year-olds on board was stopped at Mickleby, near Whitby. The driver tested positive for cannabis, and was arrested on suspicion of drug driving. He has been released under investigation while enquiries continue.
- At 11.45pm, three men in a white van were stopped and checked at Hawnby, in the North York Moors. The driver was issued with a Traffic Offence Report for carrying a passenger in a dangerous manner. They were also given a Dispersal Order, requiring them to leave North Yorkshire.
- At 1.20am, at Slingsby, near Malton, three suspected poachers in a Ford Ranger were stopped and checked. Due to the cirucmstances, they were issued with a Dispersal Order, requiring them to leave North Yorkshire.
Inspector Matthew Hagen, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said:
“Once again, our high-visibility presence and patrols as part of Operation Checkpoint have sent a strong message to criminals who use road networks to who target rural areas: their illegal activity will not be tolerated.
“Checkpoint also lets us build on our good relationships with neighbouring forces, allowing us to share resources and information to clamp down on criminals, wherever they are from and wherever they are going.
“The support we get from residents in rural areas continues to be fantastic, in particular our Mobile Rural Watch volunteers. I can’t praise their dedication enough. They give up their own time to work alongside the police, and help protect their communities from harm – making a huge contribution to the fight against rural crime.
“Our proactive work will continue, keeping our rural communities safe, and making it extremely difficult for criminals.”