A CROSS-border day of action took place today (Wednesday, March 8) in a bid to disrupt and deny criminals from using road and railway networks.

Operation Crossbow saw Cheshire Constabulary, North Wales Police and British Transport Police join forces.

More than 200 officers flooded the main arterial routes in and out of Chester, Ellesmere Port and North Wales aiming to flush out any potential criminals using the transport network to commit crime.

Cheshire’s Roads and Crime officers parked at key locations and used Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to monitor vehicles crossing between the counties with stop checks being made on vehicles linked to criminal activity or believed to be operating on the roads illegally.

In addition, officers from British Transport Police also patrolled the rail routes into Chester.

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While out targeting criminals, Cheshire officers were equipped with Operator Initiated Facial Recognition (OIFR) which allows officers to check the identity of someone who is believed to have provided false details and are unable to show identification.

OIFR allows officers to promptly compare photographs of offenders to a reference image database to assist them with confirming the identity of the person in front of them.

Another initiative used by officers was Operation Yellow Card which allows officers who suspect someone is carrying out criminal activity to issue them with a warning card.

In Chester city centre, agencies joined forces with police to tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour in the city.

Deputy Chief Constable, Chris Armitt, said: “Operation Crossbow is a joined up response to policing the region’s borders including those who use road and rail networks to commit criminality and send a strong message to individuals associated with or linked to serious and organised crime.

“During this day of action, we have shown our continued commitment to the communities of Cheshire and North Wales and our promise to make the region a hostile environment for criminals to operate in.

“This operation is an extension of the excellent work that we already do between the forces on a daily basis and to further prevent criminals who may choose to move their criminality into other neighbouring areas as a result of the disruption.

“We know there is a strong link between the illegal use of vehicles and other serious and organised crime, which is why we are working together with our colleagues in North Wales and British Transport Police to target these criminals as they travel across the region.

“We will not stop pursuing those who are intent on travelling to Cheshire in order to commit crime and we will continue doing all we can to protect the public that we serve and reinforces the message that those intent on causing harm are not welcome in Cheshire.”

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North Wales Police Assistant Chief Constable Chris Allsop said: “This successful day of action achieved its main objective of coming together with colleagues in Cheshire Police and the British Transport Police to disrupt against criminals who rely on the roads and rail network to cross the North Wales and Cheshire border to commit offences.

“With a strong link between serious and organised crime and the illegal use of vehicles, it was vital that we worked together to target these main arterial routes to disrupt criminals operating in our areas.

“We cannot underestimate the impact of cross-border crime on our local communities. County Line gangs exploit the most vulnerable people in our communities, including children and young people. They are intimated, coerced, threatened and often subject to violence.

“We remain absolutely committed to working with neighbouring forces to pursue offenders and together, we will continue to make North Wales the safest place to live, work and visit.

“I hope this operation has reassured residents that we will do all we can to protect the public we serve and take those who commit crimes off our streets.”

ACC Allsop added: “Operations of this scale are always led by our most skilled and talented officers, and as we celebrate International Women's Day today, I am pleased that this major operation was led by two female gold commanders for both North Wales and Cheshire Police, in addition to two female Chief Inspectors from North Wales Police.

“This is just one example of the amazing work our female officers and staff undertake every day and is testament to their hard work and dedication to their roles.”

Chief inspector Dave Rams of British Transport Police said: "Our officers continue to patrol trains in and out of the city targeting those who are intent on using the railway in pursuit of their criminal endeavours.

"Working together by combining our resources sends a powerful message to criminals that they will be stopped.

"Whether you are a rail passenger or a member or rail staff we are always focused on your safety.

"To report a crime on the network or if you spot something that doesn't look right you can text us discreetly using our 61016 number. In an emergency always call 999."