POLICE are holding all the aces as they try to catch elusive crooks using a novel tactic made famous during the Iraq War.
Hartlepool’s most wanted criminals have had their names put on a deck of cards in order of the importance of their capture – with the ace being the most sought after person in the town.
The tactic, which is similar to that used by the USA military to capture targets during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, is being rolled out across Cleveland Police with Hartlepool given the hearts of the pack.
Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar will also have the remaining three suits with all the districts competing to see who can capture the most cards.
It is part of a week-long show of force by Cleveland Police under the banner of Operation Tornado that starts today with 40 initiatives taking place up until Sunday night.
Assistant Chief Constable Sean White, who is leading Operation Tornado, said: “Although crime is at its lowest ever recorded level in Cleveland, we will continue to target those who break the law and bring them to justice to face the consequences of their actions.
“Operation Tornado is about mobilising the resources of the force to deal with the issues that people have told us they have concerns about.
“Throughout the course of the week, we will also be tracking down people who are wanted on warrant for offences and making sure they appear at court.
“I am grateful for the support of local communities in engaging with their local neighbourhood policing officers and am confident this week will make a difference.”
Cards have been used regularly by military forces to list targets since World War Two, but came to prominence during the Iraq War in 2003.
President Saddam Hussein was made the ace of spades by USA military chiefs with his two sons also being put on ace cards.
But unlike the war cards, Cleveland Police cannot legally name those in their pack. However, police officers do hope to reveal the person on each card if they are captured, brought to court and sentenced.
Other activities during the week will include licensing, domestic violence and burglary initiatives, targeting anti-social behaviour, speed enforcement and tackling drugs.
Detective Chief Inspector Jon Green, crime manager for Hartlepool, added: “Operation Tornado is so effective because it ensures the full force of all our resources are focused towards reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.
“We have had great success in recent years in reducing crime in Hartlepool, and the county as a whole, but this operation will ensure we drive it down even further by targeting the minority who do not treat the town with the respect it deserves.”
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