POLICE were last night still questioning four men arrested over alleged firearms offences.

The men were seized in County Durham on Thursday night after a car was stopped following a chase and a revolver and live ammunition were found.

A Durham Police spokeswoman said today (Friday November 16): “The arrests were made between 6pm and 8pm last night following a short car pursuit in Consett, which was part of a planned police operation.

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“The car being pursued was swiftly and safely brought to a controlled stop by the police at the Jolly Drovers roundabout in the Leadgate area of the town and a man arrested.

“Three other men were arrested following the pursuit and as a result of further enquiries.

“No- one was injured during the operation. A firearm believed to be a Webley revolver and ammunition, which appears in full working order, was recovered nearby.

“The road from Hanging Stone Lane to Broom Lane was closed for approximately four hours following the arrests.”

The men, aged between 23 and 28 and from the Derwentside and Sunderland areas, are being held at police stations across County Durham. The arrests were made as the result of police acting on information linking illegal firearms to the Derwentside area.

Det Chief Insp Steve Chapman, who is leading the investigation, said: "Members of the public should be reassured that we will not tolerate the possession or use of illegal firearms and will take swift and robust action against those who participate in this activity.”

The county force’s tough-talking new temporary Chief Constable, Mike Barton, has launched a crackdown on serious organised crime across the force area.

Not he has also pledged to deal with more minor issues such as littering and dog-fouling as part of a strategy to deal with crime and anti-social behaviour.

It is based on the ''broken windows theory'', developed in the USA, which holds that serious crime can follow if small problems are not put right quickly.