Hi-tech team seizes £21k of drugs

A HI-TECH police team has stopped drugs worth more than £21,000 from hitting the streets of Hartlepool.

Cleveland Police chiefs say their automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) team has pulled off a string of “fantastic” busts over the last few months.

Three have taken place in Hartlepool, with around £21,000 worth of drugs confiscated.

The first saw a car stopped on Oxford Road in July and three men were arrested.

Officers found £1,000 worth of cannabis and £1,000 in cash in the vehicle, which made them go on to search the men’s homes where further drugs worth £5,000 were found along with another £1,000 in cash. Two further arrests, of a man and a woman, were also made.

All five are currently on police bail pending inquiries.

A silver Skoda Octavia was then stopped heading towards Hartlepool days later.

Due to information the police had, the vehicle was searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act and in excess of 15,000 diazepam tablets, with a street value of £1 each, were found.

All three people in the car were arrested and are currently on police bail pending inquiries. A month earlier, a suspicious vehicle was stopped by the ANPR intercept team in the centre of Hartlepool,

Officers found 12 individually wrapped packages of heroin and an offensive weapon and two men were arrested. Both are on bail pending further inquiries.

Inspector Bev Gill, head of the specialist operations dog section, mounted section and ANPR team, said: “In the last three months the intercept team, which consists of one sergeant and five police constables, have made a significant contribution to reducing crime and drug activity within the Cleveland area.

“They have also ensured that those driving on our roads without correct documentation and insurance will have their vehicle seized.

“Considering they are only a small team their commitment is commendable.”

The ANPR team uses a range of cameras set up in secret locations across the district that read plates on cars and inform a computer that flags up anything suspicious.

During May, June and July, the team made 66 arrests across the Cleveland area and seized a total of 91 motor vehicles from drivers without either licences or insurance.