Operation Checkpoint chalks up another success

Police officers and Forestry Commission staff taking part in the operation.
Police officers and Forestry Commission staff taking part in the operation.

Scores of police officers and volunteers took part in a major crackdown on rural criminals last night.

This latest operation was the 12th time Checkpoint has been run and chalked up another successful outing with more than 20 vehicles stopped and checked by officers. The largest rural policing operation of its kind in the country, it saw Northumbria join with five other forces to target cross-border criminals.

Northumbria's officers were joined by Special Constables, Council Licensing, Forestry Commission, crime prevention officers and local gamekeepers across the north of England.

Running overnight from yesterday into today, the six forces coordinated intelligence-led deployments, static vehicle checkpoints and proactive visits to vulnerable premises.

Officers in Northumbria stopped 27 vehicles, made reassurance visits to farms, checked rural car parks and responded to a report of poachers at Heddon-on-The Wall, which officers attended, but no offences were discovered.

Officers were deployed to rural parts of Northumberland, including the main roads, farming areas and surrounding villages. The force’s Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Hub, based in the Force Control Room, monitored and assessed real-time information relating to suspicious vehicles.

Intelligence shows that organised crime groups from across the north of England are involved in thefts, burglaries and handling stolen property, targeting rural areas in particular. These criminals use their extensive knowledge of the road networks across the region in an attempt to avoid detection.

Checkpoint targets vehicles suspected of being linked to criminality by deploying officers and volunteers with expert knowledge of their local area, crime patterns, intelligence and road network, and using ANPR technology.

Neighbourhood Acting Inspector Mick Quinn said: "Operation Checkpoint sends a clear message to travelling criminals – if you come to our area to commit crime, we will find you and stop you. Last night's operation brought the total to a dozen times we have run this effective operation which sees officers targeting people we suspect of being active offenders in our rural communities.

"We also rely heavily in information from our communities about suspicious vehicles and individuals seen in our rural areas; they really are our additional eyes and ears on the ground and their help is invaluable. We are also extremely grateful for the support of our volunteer watch schemes, who provide invaluable support in the fight against rural crime.

"And we know by joining forces with our neighbouring police colleagues we continue to build on our excellent working relationships to clamp down on criminals. This operation is testament to our commitment to protecting rural communities, deploying specialist resources to ensure that the county remains a no-go area for cross-border criminals."

If anyone has any concerns about crime or disorder where they live, they should contact their local neighbourhood policing team on 101.