More than 40 officers from six forces were involved in the operation which used automatic number plate recognition (ALPR) technology to identify offenders travelling into Essex from the Dartford Crossing and on the A13.
Operation Alliance brought together officers from forces throughout East Anglia to pool resources for large-scale intercept events in each county. The forces visiting Essex were Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk.
Motorbikes, marked and covert cars and specialist units were brought together for the operation, which was centred on Moto Services at West Thurrock. A total of 73 vehicles – 10 HGVs, 37 cars and 26 vans – were taken to the services coach park for further checks.
Officers from the Essex Police casualty reduction unit were joined by roads policing colleagues and officers from the commercial vehicle unit, a dog unit and local officers.
Vehicle examiners from VOSA (the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) were involved in checking poorly maintained vehicles while officers from HM Revenue and Customs checked vehicles for illegal fuels. A number of vehicles were found to be illegally running on red diesel and kerosene, and their drivers were fined.
Twelve vans and cars were seized for being uninsured and one vehicle was confiscated because the driver had his licence revoked in connection with an immigration matter.
Fourteen vehicles were found to have no MoTs, two people were stopped for using mobile phones and eight for not wearing seat belts. Five people have invalid driving licences. Three vehicles were stopped for being overweight.
A number of driver hours offences were detected when HGVs were examined at the check site. One driver was fined £400 and had his articulated truck clamped for 11 hours after it was found he had not taken a full break for three days.
Several commercial vehicles were subjected to immediate prohibitions for a range of defects. One van was in such a dangerous state that some brake discs fell off as it was driven on the check site.
A continental HGV was escorted to the site when the driver stopped to ask a police motorcyclist for help after hearing banging noises from his trailer. When officers opened the rear doors of the vehicle they found a teenager from Eritrea who had stowed in Calais. Officers gave him water before he was arrested into the care of the UK Border Force.
Adam Pipe, casualty reduction manager for Essex Police, said that Operation Alliance was developed to detect and deter criminals using the roads and also to improve road safety.
He added: “I hope this will be the first of many of these large-scale operations across Essex. They bring together specialist road policing officers who are skilled at using ALPR to intercept travelling criminals and drivers who flout the law by driving without valid driver documents, drive cars without MoTs and also put their own safety and the safety of others by not using seat belts or by driving while using mobile phones.”
Source: Herts & Essex Observer