STAFFORDSHIRE has seen a 25 per cent reduction in reported crime during lockdown and the force is launching an intensification operation to target criminals and keep crime from rising to pre-lockdown levels.
This starts with Operation Lightning from today (Tuesday, September 1) which will tackle criminals use of the roads and to prevent increases in the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads as they get busier and more people return to work and the darker nights draw in.
It will include a focus on the ‘fatal four’ motoring offences that are major causes of death and serious injury on the roads - speeding, mobile phone use, drink and drug use and not wearing a seatbelt.
Police will use all tactical methods available to them including high-visibility patrols, unmarked patrols, covert patrols, drones, motorcycles equipped with speed detection and video recording equipment and mobile safety camera vans. The National Police Air Service helicopter and aeroplane will also be used to assist in the capture of footage and evidence of speeding motorists and bikers.
The decision by the Staffordshire Commissioner earlier this year to increase council tax funding for policing has enabled the force to make further investments in improving its capacity and capabilities to disrupt criminality and tackle the issues which matter most to local communities, delivering improved outcomes.
The operation is being run alongside partners including the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG), Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership and the Community Speed Watch Scheme.
Leading the team operationally, Chief Superintendent Elliott Sharrard-Williams, Head of the Operational Support Directorate, said: “Operation Lightning runs throughout the year, but this intensification will help us to tackle criminality on our roads and work to prevent serious road traffic accidents, protecting local communities from harm and building on the crime decrease we have seen through the Covid pandemic.
“After the three weeks of intensive action, it doesn’t just end there. Roads policing is one of the areas that has benefited from additional investment as a result of the precept increase. The force has set up a dedicated roads policing capability to enhance existing capabilities through increased enforcement and the use of new technologies such as drones and off-road bikes. This is in addition to the extensive education programmes delivered by our partners in the Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership.
Speaking on behalf of the Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership, David Williams, Cabinet Member for Transport and Highways at Staffordshire County Council said: “Keeping our roads safe remains a top priority for us and our roads continue to be amongst the safest in the country.
“Over the past few months, because of lockdown and travel restrictions due to Coronavirus, we have seen much less traffic on the roads. But with traffic set to return to more usual levels, we are keen to remind drivers to use the roads responsibly.
“We are determined to make Staffordshire’s roads even safer through a mix of education, enforcement and awareness raising and will continue to work closely with our partners and local communities to achieve this.”