POLICE stopped more than 100 drivers during a multi-agency operation this week, with a number charged for crimes ranging from illicit fuel to possession of drugs.

The Knutsford beat team enlisted the help of colleagues from Northwich and Crewe, as well as partner agencies, in a bid to tackle rural crime and machinery theft along the A50 corridor from High Legh to Holmes Chapel.

As part of Operational Regimental, officers used automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology to identify and speak to around 120 drivers, prosecuting for motoring offences including the use of red diesel – illegal for use in cars.

The intelligence-led operation, on Monday, saw early morning efforts in High Legh before an afternoon session in Toft and towards Holmes Chapel.

With the A50 also providing a key link to other major roads, the operation targeted cross-border crime. Knutsford’s policing team cover a huge rural area stretching some 70 miles across.

Sgt Andy Baker says feedback is positive.

“I know from local residents who we spoke to that they were all extremely positive and thankful,” he said.

“Some had been victims of recent crimes and said ‘thank you very much, this is exactly what is needed’ – particularly in the morning in High Legh.

“Of the 120 people we spoke to, I don’t know of one who was annoyed. Not one person refused the check, which they are entitled to do.

“High Legh is targeted because the M56 and M6 run through it – you have got the Lymm interchange there and you can get north to south very quickly. You also have motorway links to Liverpool and Manchester.

“It’s about reassuring the rural communities. We are out there, we are doing what we can to identify offenders and bring them to justice.

“Moreover, we are trying to prevent them from coming anywhere near these communities in the first place.”

The use of ANPR allows vehicles to be instantly checked against a number of databases, potentially linking them to criminal behaviour and – in this instance – allowing officers to pull them over and speak to drivers about suspected motoring offences.

While the operation set out in part to tackle machinery theft, the previous day had seen the Knutsford team catch and caution a woman who admitted to targeting horseboxes.

The woman from Knutsford, in her 50s, was handed two cautions relating to incidents in Marthall on December 3 and Aston-by-Budworth on December 1, and is now a person of interest to police.