Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Monday, 31 March 2008 15:17 UK

Joint campaign targets motorists

Forged tax disc
Officers have already discovered a vehicle with a forged tax disc

Motorists have been arrested and vehicles impounded on the first day of a joint police campaign across the South West, south England and Wales.

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) targets drivers without licences, insurance and road tax.

About 100 officers are involved in the week-long Operation Utah.

The forces involved are Devon and Cornwall, Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Thames Valley, Dorset, Gloucestershire, South Wales and Gwent.

ANPR uses cameras to check licence plates against a computer database.

'Immensely powerful'

One driver admitted he had broken the law and deserved to be arrested.

"I've broken the law and that's how it is," he told BBC News.

"If you've done something wrong and you get caught, you have to face the consequences."

Poster on impounded vehicle
Vehicles without proper documentation are being impounded

Any vehicles suspected of involvement in crime are also being stopped.

Supt Tim Swarbrick of Devon and Cornwall Police said ANPR had proved to be "immensely powerful".

"It's probably one of the best bits of technology we've had for the past 20 or 30 years," he said.

It is the first time all the region's police forces have joined together for such an operation, but more are planned.

A police spokesman said 52 vehicles were siezed and seven arrests made on the first operational day.


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