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WATCH: 'We are out hunting': The east's newest police team using technology to stop organised crime

PUBLISHED: 16:09 01 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:30 01 November 2019

The Operation Sentinal team based at Lowestoft police station are targetting criminals using the ANPR technology in their patrol vehicles. Picture: Neil Didsbury

The Operation Sentinal team based at Lowestoft police station are targetting criminals using the ANPR technology in their patrol vehicles. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Archant

With 41 arrests made in its first 18 days, a county's newest policing team is proving technology and intelligence is key to stopping crime.

Suffolk Police's Operation Sentinel has been targeting serious, organised criminal activity in the south of the county since May this year.

But £1.6m in extra funding secured by Police and Crime commisioner Tim Passmore means police have launched two new dedicated teams for the west and east, who we joined for a ride along to see how state-of-the-art technology is bringing crime on the county's roads to a halt.

A uninsured driver was stopped by police in Lowestoft by the newly-founded Operation Sentinel team. Picture: Neil DidsburyA uninsured driver was stopped by police in Lowestoft by the newly-founded Operation Sentinel team. Picture: Neil Didsbury

The operation has given Suffolk's teams the widest range of proactive policing tactics, including automatic number plate recognition, mobile fingerprint devices and drones to "identify and intercept criminals to frustrate their activities".

In just a couple of hours we saw the team stop three vehicles, with ANPR flagging up vehicles that had no tax, MOT or insurance, as well as information on drivers - including one linked to drug dealing and possessing weapons.

"We are in the early days and we have only had a few properly operational days, but we have had good results," said a sergeant on the operation.

He continued: "We are looking for drug dealers, and the organised crime element of that massively impacts people who are vulnerable - drug users and school kids.

On board with the Operational Sentinel team from Suffolk Police as they scour the area looking for vehicles involved in criminal activity. Picture: Neil DidsburyOn board with the Operational Sentinel team from Suffolk Police as they scour the area looking for vehicles involved in criminal activity. Picture: Neil Didsbury

"There is a small element of county lines dealing going on in Lowestoft, and there is a small amount of people trafficking.

"Our staff are out hunting, and that's all they are doing. If you're doing something illegal, we will catch you."

While much of their work is focused on crime linked to the roads, police hope to tackle a wide range of crimes.

One officer said: "Being at the top of the A12 Lowestoft links three counties together, so we stop any criminals using the road and share our knowledge with other forces."

They said it would include work with Norfolk's Operation Moonshot, a similar initiative across the border.

Officers selected for the operation have already proven themselves as dedicated and proactive elsewhere in the force, and share their knowledge and experience working as a team.

Each unit has seven officers in a team (a sergeant and six PCs) and the 21-strong unit has been made possible by the increase in police numbers, the force said.

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