More than 100 vehicles were stopped by police as forces teamed up for a roads policing operation in Thetford yesterday.
About 50 people took part in Operation Alliance, including officers and staff from partner agencies, who worked together with the aim of catching criminals using the roads while also targeting unsafe vehicles.
Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit were joined by roads policing colleagues from Essex as well as partner agencies for the action day which coincided with the summer drink drive campaign. Officers from the counties’ joint dog section were also involved.
Police motorcyclists patrolled the A11, A134, B1106, A1075 and A1066 along with surrounding roads using the car park at Forest Retail Park on London Road as a check point area.
Officers used ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) to identify vehicles of interest and also pulled over vehicles which showed signs they may be unsafe.
Fuel testing, drug checks and vehicle examinations were all carried out at the site with assistance from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (formerly VOSA), HM Revenue & Customs, Trading Standards, DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) and the UKBA (UK Border Agency).
In total 102 vehicles were stopped and checked at the site and 81 traffic offence reports (TORs) were issued for various offences including mobile phone use, not wearing a seatbelt, no insurance, no licence, tyre defects, dangerous condition and tinted windows, careless driving and speeding.
Seven vehicles were seized for having no insurance while 11 immediate prohibition notices were issued for serious offences/defects.
A Ford Transit stopped was found to have more than £7,500 worth of alcohol on board resulting in the van being overweight. The driver was fined £600 and the vehicle and contents was seized by HMRC for unpaid tax.
A 50-year-old man was arrested for drink driving after providing a positive roadside test, three times the legal limit.
The man was taken to Wymondham Police Investigation Centre and later charged with the offence. He was released on bail to appear before Bury Magistrates Court on July 18.
A 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs after providing a positive roadside swab for cocaine.
The man was taken to Wymondham for questioning and released on bail until 17 August while enquiries continue.
A 39-year-old man was arrested for immigration offences and taken into police custody and has since been detained by the UK Border Agency.
An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession of cannabis and taken to police custody. No further action was taken against him for the drug offence but the teenager was transferred to the Metropolitan Police in London where he was wanted for offences.
Sgt Julian Ditcham, from the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit, who co-ordinated the operation, said large scale operations of this nature were valuable in bringing together skilled resources to disrupt criminal activity.
He said: “Criminals using the road do not respect boundaries so the three counties will often suffer from the same criminality and sometimes at the hands of the same offenders.
“The fact only 16 vehicles out of the 102 stopped were clear of offences demonstrates the need for such operations and we will continue hold events like this across the region to target offenders and keep law-abiding road users safe.”
Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green said: “As PCC, I attach great importance to road safety and tackling the issues which put our road users at risk.
“When you get behind the wheel, it is your duty to be safe on the road and not make choices which endanger the lives of people around you. That’s what it is – a choice. A choice to drive too fast, not maintain your vehicle to a safe level or shun the seatbelt. A choice to drive after drinking or taking drugs, or to answer that phone call or message.
“People continue to make these selfish and dangerous choices, and this partnership operation has highlighted the scale of the problem facing not just Norfolk but the region as a whole. Only 16 vehicles clear of offences – that statistic is shocking and evidence that more intense road safety campaigns are needed, focusing not just on enforcement but also education.
“My message to drivers: Do yourself and your family a favour, do me and my family a favour, do everyone in Norfolk a favour – stick to the rules.”
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “I find it absolutely staggering that such a high percentage of the vehicles stopped on one day resulted in a traffic offence report being issued, it just goes to show how valuable these multi-agency operations are.
“The results show an excellent day’s work and a super example of agencies working together for the common good.”
He added, “Roads policing is a key theme in my Police and Crime Plan and something I take a personal interest in. I am very proud that Suffolk continues to invest in roads policing and is one of only a few constabularies not to have made reductions in this area.”