Gallery: Police arrest 42 in record swoop

MORE than 250 police officers carried out dozens of raids in Ipswich today in the biggest operation of its kind Suffolk has ever seen.

MORE than 250 police officers carried out dozens of raids in Ipswich today in the biggest operation of its kind in Suffolk.

By mid-afternoon 42 suspects had been arrested in the swoops, which involved nearly 20 per cent of the county's 1,300-strong force.

The operation targeted thieves, burglars and shoplifters and today's arrests were mainly for alleged offences relating to stolen goods.

Firearms units were sent out to work alongside uniformed and plain-clothed officers. Police dog handlers were also on stand-by in case they were needed to support their colleagues.

One of the organisers of today's operation, Superintendent Alan Caton, said the raids were being carried out as lightning strikes to ensure they swept up as many suspects as possible.

Supt Caton said: “This unprecedented operation is the culmination of a long-term investigation into a wide range of offences including burglaries, thefts, shoplifting and vehicle crimes. It has been led by community intelligence.

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“We have carried out this operation so that people who are suspected of such crimes can be targeted in the shortest possible timescale.”

Around 30 search warrants were carried out on properties in and around the Ipswich area during the morning.

The operation was so large that five police stations around the county have had to be set aside to accommodate those arrested.

The suspects taken into custody were due to be interviewed at either Ipswich, Felixstowe, Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds or Lowestoft police stations.

The operation was co-ordinated from Martlesham police headquarters, where a Gold, Silver and Bronze command base was set up.

To ensure there were enough police to cover normal duties, as well as go out on the raids, all leave was cancelled for today.

The operation began shortly after 7.30am with more than 250 officers being briefed at the police HQ's Local Emergency Centre about their roles and strategy.

Each of the units then left Martlesham at around 8am to carry out the first of the raids.

A total of 31 police cars and vans were used to transport police and suspects during the swoops.

The co-ordinated raids are the culmination of an investigation which has been going on for the past 12 months.

More than 1,000 items of property have already been seized during the inquiry. However police are still trying to ascertain how much of the haul is stolen and how much is legitimate.

Many of the items seized are electrical goods such as MP3 players, satellite navigation systems and computers.

Due to the sheer number of suspects targeted in today's operation, codenamed Bivalve, a special court has had to be set up for tomorrow. Anyone charged in connection with the inquiry will appear at South East Suffolk Magistrates Court in Ipswich.

Other suspects, not charged after being interviewed by officers throughout the day, will be released on bail pending further inquiries if they remain under arrest.

They will then have to return to Ipswich police station later this month.