OFFICERS from Cumbria Police took part in the launch of a cross-border operation targeting travelling criminals today.

Operation Checkpoint, a multi-force operation, has been launched to tackle criminals operating across counties in the North of England and Scotland.

Approximately 90 officers from Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Northumbria and Scotland were involved in the operation.

Officers from local policing teams were joined by colleagues from roads policing teams, the Special Constabulary, dog handlers and PCSOs.

It was an intelligence-led operation, aiming to:

- Gather intelligence on travelling criminals
- Prevent and disrupt criminal activity
- Provide high visibility presence to reassure local communities

Police targeted known criminals and their vehicles, along with other vehicles seen in suspicious circumstances, stopping and searching them to prevent criminal activity and gather intelligence.

Inspector Richard Quinn for Cumbria Constabulary said:

“It is vitally important that we work together across county and country boundaries to target criminals. Criminals travel up and down our roads to commit crime – mostly thefts from rural communities. If criminals don’t recognise boundaries then neither should we.

“Often these criminals will use back roads and commit rural acquisitive crime, including burglary, vehicle theft, farm thefts and scrap metal theft. They are opportunistic and think that by travelling to another county where they are less known that they are less likely to be caught.

“Operation Checkpoint aims to prove these criminals wrong. By working closely together we can help keep all our communities safe places to live and work. We hope to make today’s operation the first of many.”

North Yorkshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Paul Kennedy, added:

“Today’s operation has been an excellent opportunity to enhance and support our ongoing Operation Hawk which was introduced last summer to protect North Yorkshire’s rural communities from travelling criminals.

“Criminals know no boundaries and today’s show of force sends a clear message to the criminal fraternity that their activity will not be tolerated and we are all united with the aim of disrupting their behaviour and bringing them to justice, no matter where they choose to operate.

“I also welcome the opportunity to work closely with our neighbouring forces which helps to enhance our already good working relationships and improve information sharing. I echo Inspector Quinn’s hope that many more operations of this scale will follow in the future.”

Inspector Kevin Oates, from Northumbria Police said:

“Protecting our rural communities is a priority for Northumbria Police and by working with our neighbouring forces in operations like this, we are able to share information on known offenders and work together to keep our communities safe.

"As well as working with other forces in running these operations we work closely with the residents in our rural communities. Local people are our eyes and ears on the ground and we rely on their information to let us know what's going on and where.

"We already share lots of information with residents through community messaging and FarmWatch but I'd urge anyone who sees any suspicious vehicles or people in rural Northumberland to report it to us straight away, and we will investigate.

"Through working together we will continue to make sure Northumberland remains a safe place to live."

Inspector Gordon McKnight, from Police Scotland, said:

“For a number of years now we have been fighting incidents of rural crime right across Dumfries and Galloway and are aware that in many cases criminals are travelling here to commit crime from other areas, from both north and south of our borders. 

"Police Scotland is keen to play a collaborative part in Operation Checkpoint in order to target those who travel to commit crime in the forces involved.  We would also like to reassure the public that we will keep any disruption to the law abiding public to a minimum in our quest to catch and deal with those who are using the roads network to travel and commit crimes.”

John Barwise, Enforcement Officer for South Lakeland District Council, said:

“South Lakeland District Council`s Enforcement officers will be in attendance at the operation to remind businesses of their legal responsibilities to ensure that any waste they may be carrying on their vehicles is transported and disposed of in a correct manner.”