Police go undercover in HGV to catch road lawbreakers

POLICE are using an undercover lorry to catch law-breakers on the region’s roads. Specialist motor patrols officers have been deployed as part of the Highways England initiative Op Tramline – a campaign focussing on the strategic road network in a bid to safeguard vulnerable road users and target motorists who use the roads for criminality. From the cab of an unmarked HGV, traffic officers will be able to capture drivers using mobile phones, driving carelessly and who appear to under the influence of drink or drugs.

Sergeant Jane Munro, of Northumbria Police Motor Patrols Department, said: “The vantage point from being in the cab of the lorry allows officers to have a wider view of the road and greater visibility of the drivers using them. “We can see what drivers are doing including attempting to hide their phone on their lap whilst texting. This may seem like a minor thing but can end fatally if attention lapses, even for a split second.

“As well as enforcement, the initiative aims educate road users of the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt, unsafe loads and dangerous condition of their vehicles. “During lockdown across the UK over five million MOT’s have been missed, so it is important that vehicles are road safe with tyres and breaks being checked properly.” Motor patrols will be loaning the HGV from Highways England following on from the success of their previous campaign in September of last year.

With the use of the Op Tramline HGV, officers captured an unsuspecting 24-year old Albanian national who had been driving carelessly. He was later found to be wanted for immigration offences and subject to a European Arrest Warrant. He was remanded for court where he was disqualified from driving for six months, issued a GBP200 fine and deported back to his home country.

Northumbria Polcie said The use of the HGV proved to be a huge success in this case. Now with the initiative returning for 2021 cops are keen to keep the momentum going and stamp out crime on the regions roads. Highways England regional road safety co-ordinator for Yorkshire and North East, Sarah Watson-Quirk, said: “The vast majority of people drive responsibly and we hope Operation Tramline will encourage all road users to drive safely.

“We have several lorry cabs at Highways England that provide the police with a valuable tool to carry out their job enforcing the law. “Unfortunately around 450 people are killed or seriously injured every year on England’s motorways and major A roads as a result of a driver being impaired or distracted. Those who break the law behind the wheel are putting lives at risk.”

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuiness, said: “It’s great to see this proactive work by the force to keep our roads safe.

Dangerous driving costs lives, it has no place on our roads.

“The public have made clear they want to see these motorists targeted and I hope this reassures people that those who drive irresponsibly are in Northumbria’s sights.”

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