WATCH: Meet the new 21-strong new police team set up to target organised crime gangs
PUBLISHED: 16:03 29 June 2019
A new £1.6million, 21-officer team has been set up to clamp down on organised crime and drug gangs in Suffolk.
Suffolk chief constable Steve Jupp said the new Operational Sentinel team would be a "valuable addition" to the force and make criminals' lives a "misery" - particularly those dealing drugs across county borders.
The unit, funded by the taxpayer through a rise in the police element of council tax, plans to identify law-breakers through means such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems.
They will also carry mobile fingerprint devices to identify and apprehend criminals on scene.
In their first 16 days, the team has made 34 arrests.
It comes as county lines gang activity continue to make headlines, which police have labelled as an "on-going threat" and police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore says is one of the biggest problems facing the county.
Mr Jupp said: "The nature of policing is constantly evolving and protecting our communities from harm is our priority.
"This new team is another example of Suffolk Constabulary's commitment to maintain proactive policing to prevent criminals causing misery in Suffolk.
"The introduction of Operation Sentinel demonstrates that we have, and will continue to, listen to the public who we serve and who want as many officers on the frontline as possible.
"They will be a valuable addition to the overall policing structure in the county to ensure we remain on the front foot and deny criminals use of the roads, and put them before the courts."
Detective chief superintendent Eamonn Bridger added: "Serious and organised criminals use the road network extensively in order to facilitate their criminal activities. The Sentinel team will allow us to intercept offenders to disrupt such activity, seize their assets and then convict them to protect our local communities.
"The use of ANPR and the other technologies gives us the opportunity to respond more swiftly and increases the likelihood of criminals being arrested. This approach demonstrates that we are doing all we can to ensure communities are kept free from crime.
"It sends a clear message that Suffolk is not a 'soft touch' when it comes to serious and organised criminality - we are determined to identify and bring such offenders to justice."