Overnight operation targets countryside crime

Gearing up for Operation Checkpoint.
Gearing up for Operation Checkpoint.
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Police officers were joined by more than 30 volunteers last night to take part in the latest major operation on rural crime.

The region-wide initiative - Operation Checkpoint - saw Northumbria, Cleveland, Cumbria, Durham, Lancashire and North Yorkshire join forces to target cross-border criminals on the same evening. Organised crime groups from across the north of England are involved in thefts, burglaries and handling stolen property and target rural areas using knowledge of the road networks across the region in an attempt to avoid detection.

Running between yesterday and this morning, Northumbria Police officers joined forces with volunteers and partner agencies to flood rural areas with the sole purpose of targeting those people who persist in entering land illegally to commit poaching offences, carry out thefts and destroy the countryside with fly-tipping. Officers and volunteers kept in constant communication to maximise the potential of seeing suspicious activity and then directed dedicated officers to deal with offenders.

Officers in Northumbria stopped 29 vehicles and searched two people, resulting in an arrest for theft offences.

Superintendent Andy Huddleston said: "Neighbourhood officers worked with a wide range of volunteers, including farmers, gamekeepers, National Trust rangers, Forestry Commission, fisheries and angling enforcement, to ensure Operation Checkpoint was a success. We all stand together to send a clear message to criminals that if you come to Northumbria to commit crime we will target you and used all methods at our disposal to hit back.

"We asked our rural communities what mattered most to them and from the tremendous feedback, it was clear that by working as a team and supporting Operation Checkpoint we can tackle rural crime, but it also reassures and involve the local communities to keep our areas safe. I'd like to thank all our volunteers for giving up their time to support the operation as their contribution is invaluable to making this a continued success.

"I'd urge anyone who sees any suspicious vehicles or people or has information that can help prevent crime to report it to us straight away by calling 101."

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird DBE QC, said: "I encourage proactive operations like this, where partners join together in a bid to catch those responsible and prevent further offences. These are some great results and I will make sure this this activity continues and urge anyone who sees anything suspicious or who has any concerns to contact the police so officers can investigate and take firm action against criminals targeting our rural areas."