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New policing team heralds 'major step change in the fight against crime'

PUBLISHED: 09:35 11 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:35 11 October 2019

Officers from the Operation Sentinel team in east Suffolk were involved in arresting six people on suspicion of drug offences in Whapload Road, Lowestoft. Photo: Greta Levy

Officers from the Operation Sentinel team in east Suffolk were involved in arresting six people on suspicion of drug offences in Whapload Road, Lowestoft. Photo: Greta Levy

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A new policing team that is targeting serious and organised criminal activity has launched in East Suffolk.

Suffolk Police and Crime Comissioner Tim Passmore with Operation Sentinel officers in south Suffolk. Picture: RACHEL EDGESuffolk Police and Crime Comissioner Tim Passmore with Operation Sentinel officers in south Suffolk. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Operation Sentinel initially launched in the south of the county earlier this year, but now dedicated teams have been launched in the west and the east of the county.

It means that the three teams are providing an enhanced coverage of Suffolk's road network as they "proactively disrupt serious and organised criminal activity," according to Suffolk Constabulary.

Det Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger pictured previously at Lowestoft police station. Picture: Nick ButcherDet Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger pictured previously at Lowestoft police station. Picture: Nick Butcher

With the teams protecting communities and tackling cross-border criminality, each unit has seven officers - a sergeant and six PCs.

The 21-strong mobile unit has been made possible by an increase in police numbers paid for by this year's precept increase.

The Operation Sentinel logo. Picture: Suffolk ConstabularyThe Operation Sentinel logo. Picture: Suffolk Constabulary

Since the team launched in south Suffolk on May 28, more than 100 arrests have been made for a variety of offences.

Already in east Suffolk, officers from the local Operation Sentinel team have been involved in the arrests of six people on suspicion of drug offences. It comes after two vehicles were stopped on Whapload Road in Lowestoft on October 4 and later seized.

The Sentinel Teams use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and mobile fingerprint devices to identify and intercept criminals.

Det Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said: "The force has always made clear that the changing nature of crime and its rise in certain areas means Suffolk's policing model needs to be as flexible, effective and efficient as possible for the communities it serves.

"These two additional teams bolster our current capability to disrupt criminal activity even further.

"The two new teams demonstrate Suffolk Constabulary's commitment to maintaining a pre-emptive approach to policing to prevent criminals causing misery in Suffolk."

Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: "This additional funding has enabled the Chief Constable to increase the police establishment to form this proactive Sentinel team to help fight organised crime.

"It is great to see the team extended into the East and West policing areas of the county and I am sure this countywide coverage will pay dividends.

"It won't change everything but this is a major step change in the fight against crime in our communities."

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