Forces should consider further widening the remit of roads policing operations in a move to tackle wider criminality and deny offenders freedom of movement.
Speaking at the joint ACPO and Police Federation conference Sgt Mark Beales, of the GMP Specialist Operations Branch, said a combination of roads policing knowledge and other specialist skills could yield strong results.
He highlighted that the setting up of his Force’s Roads Crime Unit had brought two sets of organised criminals to book in separate high-profile operations.
Led by a sergeant, a small team of PCs and a PCSO â€“ with a combination of ANPR and detection skills among them â€“ have been instrumental in targeting criminality where a vehicle is crucial to an offence being committed.
“We are not talking about dealing with major Level II activities here, but about specialist and unique areas of offending,” Sgt Beale told delegates in Leicestershire.
“There are cases in which the use of a motor vehicle is essential to an offence being committed â€“ and these are the types of offences we are targeting.”
Sgt Beale said his team had been involved in achieving results in two cases â€“ the “cash for crash” scam, where staged collisions were used to defraud insurers and Op Crush, in which speeding motorists were helped to avoid fines and penalty points.
Op Crush uncovered a fraud in which some 728 offenders managed to avoid their fines thanks to an elaborate scam while cash for crash saw offenders who were targeting innocent drivers for insurance payouts taken out of circulation.
Sgt Beale added: “There are some criminal activities that are specific to a roads policing environment â€“ I believe we do have a responsibility to respond.
“Something like cash for crash was a huge opportunity for us â€“ an awful lot can be achieved with a little investment. But to do nothing is not an option.”
As previously reported on PoliceOracle.com, Hampshire Constabulary has also achieved significant results with the recent setting up of its Roads Policing Unit Proactive Team.
Sgt Simon Goss, who skippers the group of eight officers, said the team had made a significant impact in its first six months since being set up in July with 136 arrests, 487 vehicles seized and a plethora of stolen items recovered.