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Drug criminals target in hi-tech operation code-named 'Moonshot City'

PUBLISHED: 07:49 13 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:33 13 November 2017

More ANPR cameras are being deployed around Norwich, a report reveals. Picture: Simon Finlay/Archant library

More ANPR cameras are being deployed around Norwich, a report reveals. Picture: Simon Finlay/Archant library

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Norwich has been codenamed "Moonshot City" as police deploy extra ANPR cameras to target criminals who prey on the vulnerable.

Officers monitor the cameras to check for suspect vehicles. Picture: Simon FinlayOfficers monitor the cameras to check for suspect vehicles. Picture: Simon Finlay

A report to Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner reveals the move follows an operation earlier this year, where police used the technology to make a number of arrests in West Norfolk.

The report, by Norfolk’s Chief Constable Simon Bailey, said a trial called Moonshot West obtained “significant results” and had been made a permanent team.

“Scoping work has now developed new additional locations in Norwich known as Moonshot City,” it says, adding the work will provide “increased opportunity to disrupt organised criminality within the city”.

Police and crime commissioner Lorne Green said: “We’ve had enormous success in the West of the county with seizing cars and seizing people involved in dealing drugs.

When a vehicle is flagged up as being of interest, officers are waiting to intercept. Picture: Ian BurtWhen a vehicle is flagged up as being of interest, officers are waiting to intercept. Picture: Ian Burt

“So successful have they [ANPR cameras] been that I’m finding the resources to extend a ring of steel around our county. By extending it to Norwich, it will close the loop.”

Cameras will be monitored by operators who will deploy police to investigate suspect vehicles “targeting those linked to violent criminals targeting the vulnerable”.

There have been growing concerns about so-called cuckoo drug gangs from outside Norfolk, who target vulnerable users by taking over their homes to deal from. Police have already made more than 300 arrests across the area and seized large quantities of drugs and weapons since launching Operation Gravity in response.

Locations of the new cameras are not revealed. Norfolk police’s website says: “ANPR cameras are mounted within police vehicles and at fixed locations to help detect, deter and disrupt criminality. As a vehicle passes an ANPR camera, the registration number is read and checked against database records of vehicles of interest. Police can intercept and stop a vehicle, check it for evidence and, where necessary, make arrests.”

Mr Bailey’s report is due to be discussed tomorrow at a police accountability forum at South Norfolk House, Long Stratton (5pm). The meeting is the latest in a series where commissioner Lorne Green, holds the chief constable to account and the public can question senior officers.

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