Police forces join together to clamp down on criminals in rural areas

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Police forces joined together to clamp down on criminals in rural areas last night.

Dozens of officers from six forces - including Northumbria, Cleveland and Durham - took part in Operation Checkpoint.

It is the largest rural policing operation of its kind in the country, and also included officers from North Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria.

Checkpoint aims to gather intelligence about travelling criminals, disrupt their use of the road network and bring anyone found breaking the law to justice.

The latest operation is the 10th of its kind since January 2014.

According to police, 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.

Last night’s operation took place between 3pm yesterday and 3am today, and involved police using Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology to target vehicles suspected of being linked to criminality, as well as checking vehicles in suspicious circumstances and focusing on key locations.

Volunteer members of local Watch schemes provided valuable assistance, acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police.

Across Northumbria, 31 vehicles were stopped and one vehicle checked as officers were deployed to rural parts of the county, including the main roads, surrounding villages and farming areas.

The force’s ANPR Hub, based in the Force Control Room, monitored and assessed real-time information relating to suspicious vehicles.

Neighbourhood Inspector Kevin Oates said: “Operation Checkpoint sends a clear message to criminals using road networks to target our rural communities that their illegal activity will not be tolerated.

“By joining forces with our colleagues in neighbouring police areas, we continue to build on our excellent working relationships to clamp down on criminals – wherever they are from and wherever they are going.

"We are also extremely grateful for the support of our volunteer Watch schemes, who provide invaluable support in the fight against rural crime.

“The 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.

“Checkpoint has now marked its 10th operation, and I look forward to many more such initiatives in the future.

"We will continue to make life difficult for criminals and work together to protect our rural communities.”