RURAL crime was the focus of a multi-force operation targeting cross-border criminals.

Operation Checkpoint saw more than 110 police officers, PCSOs and Special Constables from the North Yorkshire, Cleveland, Cumbria, Durham, Lancashire and Northumbria forces worked alongside almost 100 volunteers on Thursday evening.

The initiative aimed to gather intelligence on offenders, as well as provide high-visibility reassurance to local communities.

Temporary Inspector Fay Cole, of Cleveland Police, said: “Rural criminals are often organised in what they do and will not only target the rural communities of Cleveland but will travel across our borders. A number of vehicles were stopped and valuable intelligence gained during last night’s operation, which we will build on in partnership with our neighbouring and regional forces.”

Across the region, hundreds of vehicles were stopped for proactive checks. In North Yorkshire, 60 vehicles were stopped and several searched, resulting in five arrests for burglary, theft and drug driving, along with two other vehicles seized.

Inspector Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “As always, Operation Checkpoint sends a clear message to criminals using the road networks to target our rural communities that their illegal activity won’t be tolerated.

“We have excellent working relationships with neighbouring forces, and operations like Checkpoint help us share resources and information to clamp down on criminals, wherever they are from and wherever they are going.

“The support of our volunteers, such as members of Mobile Rural Watch schemes, is also an invaluable part of the operation. With their local knowledge, we were able deploy effectively across hundreds of square miles, directing officers to key points of interest and suspicious activity. Once again, we’re extremely grateful for their efforts."