A specialist team set up to target criminals operating on and around Northamptonshire’s border is continuing to reap the rewards six months after its launch.
The cross border team was set up earlier this year to tackle criminals who operate on the fringes of Northamptonshire in the belief that the rural location will help them evade capture.
Police officers from Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire make up the team based at Oundle Police Station, although they spend very little time there.
The Northants Telegraph was invited to spend a day out on the road with the team, which currently has three officers from Northamptonshire, one from Cambridgeshire and one from Lincolnshire, to see how they work and find out more about their successes to date.
An early start at 7am saw the team heading out to Peterborough for its first job of the day to visit a Travellers’ site.
The team headed out en masse in three vehicles, as they often go out as a ‘pack’ so they have the option of separating to cover more ground or stick together if more numbers are required.
While all was quiet at the Travellers’ site and the man they wanted to speak to was not there, a quick check soon revealed that one of the cars parked there may be linked to two incidents where someone had driven off without paying for fuel.
Technology at the team’s fingertips meant they could send details over to the Cambridgeshire force before arranging for the car to be recovered as part of the investigation into the two incidents.
The team then split off and each vehicle took a drive around the area before heading into Peterborough city centre to carry out some vehicle checks, with each crew parked up in a different location to catch any offenders coming into or out of the area from a number of routes.
The team has access to automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras to allow them to spot known criminals as they drive around.
Intelligence sharing is vital, it is key to what we doPC Colin Gray
It can tell you various details about suspect drivers and vehicles, including if a vehicle has no tax, MOT or insurance, and whether it has been used to commit crime.
Having this sort of mobile computer technology means the officers can stay out on the roads for longer and maintain high visibility patrols on the main routes into and out of the counties they cover.
An ‘average’ day for the cross border cops can involve attending a wide range of jobs, and last Thursday saw them helping the Cambridgeshire force after reports of hare coursing in the Peterborough area.
They took a look around the area for the suspects and spoke to several farmers, warning them about it and asking them to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
ANPR checks were carried out on several roads in Northamptonshire, including the A43 near the A14 junction at Kettering and on the A6.
The team was also asked to help with a warrant due to be carried out in Wellingborough, although this was called off at the last minute so the team returned to other duties.
PC Colin Gray, who has been in the force for 20 years and joined the cross border team at its inception, said an average day will see them covering up to 100 miles per day, crossing over the borders and working together with the forces which neighbour Northamptonshire.
PC Gray said: “Intelligence sharing is vital, it is key to what we do.
“We work well as a team,” he added.
He said working with other forces and sharing information between them was proving invaluable for all involved.
Earlier this month, drugs were seized and two men arrested after a break-in at a car wash in Finedon.
Officers were called to a car wash in Burton Road, Finedon, just after 9pm on a Thursday night after reports that the premises were being burgled.
A van was later stopped by the cross border team in the Covington area of Cambridgeshire with a number of barrels believed to be from the car wash and siphoning equipment found in the back of the van.
A quantity of drugs were also found and two men were arrested on suspicion of burglary as well as possession with intent to supply. During the first few weeks of the team being launched, a routine visit to a Travellers’ site in Cambridgeshire resulted in officers smelling cannabis and then discovering it in a caravan nearby.
The team also helped seize £30,000 worth of drugs and 17 arrests were made for drug-related offences at the three-day Illusive Festival, which took place in the grounds of Deene Park near Corby in September.
Other recent work has seen them trying to trace vehicles coming down from the north which are wanted in connection with HGV offences.
The cross border team was launched as part of Northamptonshire Police’s Futures programme to look at new ways of working, and while it has already enjoyed success, PC Gray said he believes they have only ‘scratched the surface’ in terms of working together to stop criminals operating in and around the county’s borders.
To keep up-to-date with the team’s work, follow @XBorderCops on Twitter.
Our day out with the team:
7:00am Start of shift at Oundle Police Station
8:00am Visit Travellers’ site in Peterborough to see if a man they want to speak to is there. Nothing found but a car believed to have been used for two drive-offs recovered
9:00am Call about hare coursing so team drives around to see if anything suspicious can be seen
9.15am Check on van pulled up outside newsagents near Peterborough to check it is collecting rubbish on behalf of a registered firm, and it was legitimate
9.30am Parked up by A47 in case 4x4 vehicle reported for hare coursing passes
10am Parked up on roundabout in Peterborough city centre for ANPR checks
10.30am Drive round Cromwell Road/Gladstone Street area of Peterborough where there have been community tensions in the past
Midday ANPR checks on the A43 near junction with the A14 at Kettering
2:00pm Call to help execute a warrant in Wellingborough, but job cancelled en-route
2.30pm Further ANPR checks on the A43 near Kettering
3:00pm Routine visit to Travellers’ site in Broughton to check all is well
3.15pm Check on workmen cutting down trees in Barton Road to ensure they are legitimate traders, and all was well
3.30pm Start trip back to Oundle Police Station for the end of the shift