HUNDREDS of vehicles were stopped on the Cheshire-Manchester border in the biggest joint roads policing operation Cheshire Constabulary has ever conducted.

On Thursday June 26, officers from Cheshire Constabulary’s Eastern BCU, the Roads Policing Unit and Greater Manchester Police, together with several partner agencies, conducted a joint cross-border operation - Operation Crossbow.

Over 200 officers using 100 vehicles, together with air support, were involved in the operation. The overall aim of the joint operation, which took place on roads around Knutsford, was to disrupt illegal activity between the two counties and deny criminals the use of the roads.

By using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras officers were able to monitor virtually every vehicle that crossed between the two counties, stopping all vehicles that were on the roads illegally or were linked to criminal activity.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Roberts, who was leading the operation for Cheshire, said: "We know the region does suffer from criminals that target south Manchester and north and east Cheshire so this was a great opportunity to get a lot of resources out and really deny them the use of the roads.

"There′s a whole range of criminals, not just people who commit crime in this area, but those that travel through it because of the county′s road and motorway networks.

"The aim was not just to deter burglars and car criminals, but to capture a range of criminality and as the figures show and the range of offences identified.

“It′s been a great success."

A total of 344 vehicles were stopped during the operation and 15 arrests were made for a variety of offences, including possession with intent to supply, aggravated vehicle theft, money laundering, non-domestic burglary, going equipped, excess alcohol and disqualified driving.

Police also seized 19 vehicles, issued 94 fixed penalty notices, carried out 30 breath tests, recovered two stolen vehicles, uncovered four immigration absconders, 16 benefit offences, and carried out 37 fuel tests.

In addition, six Department for Work and Pensions follow-ups are to be undertaken as a result of the operation.

Inspector Matt Bailey-Smith, from Greater Manchester Police′s ANPR Intercept Unit, said: “"We had some excellent results and seizures and residents can be assured that this was not a one-off.

“Denying criminals the use of our roads remains a priority and we will continue working with our cross border colleagues to identify offenders and bring them to justice."

The Guardian witnessed all the action of Operation Crossbow and spoke to officers before and during the operation.

Superintendent Luke McDonnell from Cheshire Police said: “The objective of the operation is to target criminals who are using the road network to engage in criminal activity and we want t deny them that opportunity.

“It is a significant operation which has taken some detailed planning.”

“The key part of this operation is about providing confidence to the local community so they can go about their day to day business.

Chief constable Simon Byrne from Cheshire Police added: “This is the first in a series of operations - where we will also be doing operations with Merseyside Police and North Wales – using this type of thinking to marshal our resources at a time and place that we choose and take the fight to the criminal rather than waiting for the crime to happen.”