Criminals travelling across the borders between Cheshire, Merseyside and North Wales are being targeted in a high profile operation today (Wednesday, February 25) involving more than 250 police officers from all three force areas.
Operation Crossbow 3 aims to disrupt criminal activity across the region and deny law-breakers the use of the roads through the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) vans sited in Ellesmere Port and Chester – Chester Road, Whitby, A41 Backford, Dunkirk and Wrexham Road near Chester Business Park.
Suspicious vehicles were pursued by high performance interceptor police cars with drivers requested to pull over and answer questions.
A number of drugs warrants were also executed across the West Cheshire area as part of the operation which has taken two-and-a-half months in the planning and also involved partners including British Transport Police, HM Courts & Tribunals Service and licensing officers from Cheshire West and Chester Council.
Superintendent Paul Williams from Cheshire Police, said: “We know that criminals do not simply stop committing crimes when they reach the police border, but instead they rely on the road network to enable them to commit criminal offences across the North West.
“There is a strong link between the illegal use of vehicles and other serious and organised crime, which is why we are working together with our colleagues from Merseyside and North Wales Police, along with partner agencies, to target these criminals as they travel across the region.
“This is one of the largest partnership operations Cheshire Police has ever undertaken, with more than 250 officers taking part. These officers all have access to technology and intelligence such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), which is an excellent tool to allow officers to identify offenders and bring them to justice.”
In terms of vehicle crime, police stressed there had been a spate of thefts of Land Rovers with just under 30 stolen since last August across Cheshire, mainly the older Defender model, which are being targeted for parts.
Cheshire Superintendent Paul Williams added: “The officers this morning have been tasked specifically with looking or certain vehicles in connection with those thefts.”
In addition to targeting criminals on the road network, officers from Cheshire Police have also undertaken a number of drugs warrants across the West Cheshire area as part of the operation. In total officers conducted six warrants for drugs related offences.
CS Williams said Operation Crossbow 3, which was the third similar operation in recent months, was also about a high profile show of strength to let the criminals know they are being watched as well as reassuring the public and gathering intelligence.
He continued: “Cheshire, Merseyside and North Wales Police are committed to working in collaboration to proactively target those who choose to commit crime to fund their lifestyles and operations such as today are set to continue.”
Cheshire Chief Constable Simon Byrne told The Chronicle: “The point of today is to make sure we catch criminals that use our roads in illegal vehicles or use them to pedal drugs or move crime and proceeds across the region. We have mobilised over 50 vehicles and nearly 200 officers and it will run throughout the day in this part of the county.
“It’s the third time we have done something like this and my phrase is that it’s a day when we are organised to win the fight against the criminal.”
All three forces are keen to remind the public that they too can help keep our roads safe by reporting illegal use of vehicles to the police on 101. Alternatively, information can be reported anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The operation was hailed a great success, with a total of 23 people arrested across the region by 11.30am. Alleged offences included drugs related crimes, court warrants, theft and driving matters, including disqualified driving. Other results included more than 50 vehicles stops, three vehicles seized, nine fixed penalty notices for a variety of non-endorsable road traffic offences and eight traffic offence reports.