New handheld technology used in vehicle crackdown

More than 90 vehicles have been seized in a rural part of North Yorkshire in just one month during a push to tackle cross-border criminals and uninsured drivers.

New handheld technology, rolled out to Neighbourhood Policing teams and Response teams in Richmondshire, has helped rural local officers identify travelling criminals more quickly.

Vehicle stops in the area during October have resulted in arrests for going equipped to steal, poaching, burglary, drugs and other crime.

The new technology also identifies uninsured drivers, who are sometimes linked to other offences.

Inspector Martin Metcalfe, of Richmondshire Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Up here in Richmondshire, we patrol some of the most remote and sparsely-populated communities in northern England.

“So seizing vehicles linked to crime is a very effective way of stopping criminals who travel here before they’ve even had chance to commit an offence.

“With the use of this technology, which officers can use through a mobile phone, we can identify potential criminals and other illegal road users more quickly, and on a wider scale.”

Richmondshire Neighbourhood Policing Team estimates that around 10 of the 90-plus vehicles seized during October were directly linked to criminal activity, including burglary and drug dealing.

The remaining vehicles were uninsured or had other issues that meant they shouldn’t have been used on public roads.

Insp Metcalfe added: “Because we’re a rural area, some criminals think we’re a soft target. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

“In fact, cross-border criminals stand out to us and we heavily patrol routes we know they use. On top of that, we’re using technology that helps us identify them in an instant and is very difficult to evade.

“So my message to anyone thinking of coming to North Yorkshire to commit crime is very simple – the odds are really not in your favour and you’ll be making a huge mistake.”

Seized vehicles are taken to compounds where they are stored for a set amount of time.

Impounded vehicles may then be crushed and recycled if they are not claimed after this period.

One of the reasons vehicle seizures are effective is because they disrupt criminality, as offenders who travel into rural areas no longer have transport.

Among the recent vehicle seizures linked to travelling criminals was a van on cloned number plates that stopped in Richmondshire.

It was confiscated by police this week after officers patrolling the A66 identified it as a suspicious vehicle.

It contained an angle grinder and a significant quantity of class-B drugs.

A man in his 20s from South Yorkshire was arrested on suspicion of going equipped to steal and possession of class-B drugs.

As well as patrolling larger roads such as the A66, officers also patrol smaller rural lanes that are known routes for travelling criminals.

Insp Metcalfe said: “Sometimes suspects we arrest are surprised that we know where they were, or the routes they were using. In reality, our local police teams know the area far better than most criminals.

“We have the advantage, which is bad news for travelling criminals but great news for the law-abiding public of Richmondshire who we’re here to keep safe.”

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