Cleveland Police gave suspected offenders a rude awakening during an operation staged across the force area yesterday. Helen Cook joined officers as they carried out a series of early morning raids.

NEARLY 100 officers took part in a crime crackdown yesterday, part of an ongoing operation which has yielded impressive results.

A list of suspected criminals were led away in handcuffs as Cleveland Police mounted the latest phase of Operation Sabre.

About 90 addresses were raided and police led away people suspected of offences ranging from burglary, drug dealing, theft to an assault on a community street warden.

Chief Constable Sean Price addressed the officers before the operation and said the continuing fight will be relentless.

He said: "We are continuing to take out people who are generally causing misery in our communities."

As the driving wind made people think twice about leaving their homes, police officers and community wardens executed numerous warrants. Homes were searched for drugs and evidence.

Dog handlers and armed officers were on stand-by.

Homes in Hartlepool, Billingham, Redcar and Stockton were raided.

Custody suits across the region were inundated with 33 arrivals.

Chief Inspector Gary Stephenson, who led yesterday's operation, said: "The criminals of Cleveland have been made aware that even severe weather conditions will not stop our continuing campaign to harass, arrest and make life difficult for them.

"This was a new phase of Operation Sabre and we have now arrested almost 1,200 people since its launch in April last year."

Following a briefing at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough, Mr Price led the convoy of police vehicles with lights blazing.

In one raid at about 8am, a police van, emblazoned with Operation Sabre stickers, arrived at an address in Billingham looking for a robbery suspect.

A man was woken as five officers knocked on his door.

He was led away in handcuffs and taken to Stockton police station for interview.

A list of outstanding warrants for various offences were then executed in the area.

After the raids, Chief Insp Stephenson said: "Our promise is that Sabre will be relentless and that is good news for the vast majority of people living in the Cleveland area."