Major police operation cracks down on illegal drivers and vehicles
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A major operation involving six government agencies and four police forces cracking down on illegal and unsafe activity on Norfolk's roads has taken place.
Operation Alliance, based in an industrial estate in Thetford, was lead by Norfolk and Suffolk Roads and Armed Policing with support from Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, and Cambridgeshire Police and Essex Police.
Nearly 20 police officers on motorbikes were stationed around the town and the nearby area throughout Wednesday, stopping potentially dangerous or illegal vehicles and taking them to the main operation centre to be checked by each agency.
Alongside the police, the Driver Vehicle and Standards Agency (DVSA), the Environment Agency, HMRC, Norfolk and Suffolk Trading Standards, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, and Immigration enforcement from the Home Office took part in the operation.
Chief Inspector and head of Norfolk and Suffolk Roads and Armed Policing Kris Barnard said: 'We have managed to pool resources with colleagues the region which has allowed us to have a significant action day looking at targeting those who are driving dangerously on our roads.
'We are looking to tackle criminality, but also looking at those offences which relate to road safety as well.'
With fuel checks by HMRC, waste carrying licence checks from the Environment Agency, and modern slavery and exploitation checks being done by Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the operation did not focusing solely on obvious road safety offences.
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Chief Insp Barnard said: 'It tends to be that the people we are trying to target, the people who flout the rules of the road, are flouting other rules elsewhere as well which is why you will get other people such as the Environment Agency and all the other agencies coming along and making the most of it.
'It is not just the offences obviously related to road safety as we are also tackling criminality so that will link in with vehicles that we know are being used in the supply of drugs, and lo and behold it tends to be those people who cause danger on our roads in addition to looking to provide a drug line into a particular county.'
Midway through the operation, three arrests had already been made for drug driving, fraudulent use of documents, and stolen plant and agricultural equipment.
Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
Among the agencies taking part were the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority who specialise in exploitation and human trafficking.
Adrian Finbow, an investigating officer, said they were focusing on signs of human trafficking with migrant workers.
Mr Finbow said: 'It will be migrant workers who are excising their treaty rights to work in the UK but as quite often we see is that they are fed a bunch lies back in their home country about this fantastic life in the UK.
'The reality is once they get here the people who offered them the jobs change and become the exploiters. They put them into debt bondage, into squalid houses, take control of bank accounts and ID cards and they will treat them like slaves until they are finished with them.'
He added: 'The idea will be that the police motorcyclists will spot those MPVs and cars with migrant workers in them and they will bring them to us so we can talk to them.
'It is a golden opportunity for us because if we can take the workers away from the exploiters and speak to them you never know what you will get out of it.'
The Environment Agency (EA) took part in Operation Alliance alongside other enforcement agencies to take advantage of the opportunity to hold potential fly-tippers to account.
A representative of the EA said: 'We are looking to see anyone who is carrying waste as part of their business that they are appropriately registered with the EA if they need to be and also giving advice and guidance as well as well as checking whether they have the appropriate documentation to go alongside what they are doing.
'If we are giving advice to people about becoming waste carriers and also what they should be doing with their waste then hopefully it will reduce fly-tipping that is our aim.
'It is really good to work with the other partners to find out what they do and work together and achieve lots of aims in one place in one day together and to have visibility of ourselves with everybody else.'