An operation involving five police forces targeting travelling criminals across the north of England has resulted in a number of arrests.
During the operation, a total of 207 vehicles were stopped and checked, five people were arrested, five vehicles were seized and 17 drivers were reported for a number of offences, including possession of drugs and wildlife crime. Twelve breath tests and one drug test were conducted on drivers. Two of the arrests were for drink-driving.
More than 100 officers and community support officers from Northumbria, Durham, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire took part in Operation Checkpoint. The officers were supported by more than 80 volunteers, including special constables, farmers and gamekeepers.
The operation is the eighth of its kind in two years and is designed to gather intelligence about travelling criminals, disrupt their use of the road network and bring anyone found breaking the law to justice. Property seized included poaching equipment, a small quantity of controlled drugs and a number of dead rabbits.
The operation began yesterday evening and ran through into the early hours of this morning. Police tactics included Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology to target vehicles suspected of being connected to crime, as well as targeting suspicious vehicles and people, increasing patrol activity in rural areas and monitoring rural road networks.
Neighbourhood Inspector Kevin Oates, who coordinated the operation for Northumbria, said: "Keeping our rural communities safe is a key issue for us. Criminals may see rural areas as easy targets and I want to assure them they are anything but.
"Working together with other forces 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.
"Operation checkpoint and other rural crime operations will continue into 2016 and the future. If anyone has concerns or intelligence which could help us when we plan the next one, we would urge them to contact their local police on 101."
Anyone with concerns is asked to contact police on 101 or dial 999 in an emergency.