Operation Dragoon

17 May 2016

A Northumbria roads policing operation has led to unprecedented success in reducing the number of dangerous drivers on the force’s roads, conference delegates were told today.

PC Steve Clare told delegates that since Operation Dragoon began in 2013, 169 people have been arrested and 295 summonses have been issued. Those convicted are facing 32 years in prison between them and 115 years in disqualifications. To date, 163 vehicles have been seized.

PC Clare’s colleague, PC Derek Longstaff also took to the podium to explain the operation’s success.
He said: “We hunt them and I make no apology for using the word ‘hunt'. At the end of the day, they are endangering my family, my friends and yours. If that means sitting in a street for hours, then I will do it.”

Operation Dragoon came about following two fatal collisions in 2013. It was revealed the perpetrators shared certain characteristics including already having had words of advice from police, verbal warnings, and reports of bad driving, although no-one “had joined the dots”, said PC Clare.

Dragoon has three strands: education, engagement and enforcement. It is the enforcement element that officers said marked the operation out from other forces. The education includes short films and speakers which challenge driver behaviour by introducing a ‘human element’ to fatal collisions. Engagement is about engaging communities to get the message across. And last but not least, enforcement begins with risk management and assessment which identifies targets and whether they are high, medium or standard risk.

High risk covers a range of factors including 'likely to cause death'. Medium includes criteria such as whether they have a history of dangerous driving. Standard risk would mean the target was young or inexperienced or had been given previous warnings. The force is currently monitoring four high risk targets, 21 medium and 149 standard risk targets.

PC Longstaff said that part of the Dragoon strategy was for officers to attend remand hearings which put the magistrates under pressure to remand offenders. The operation has a 100 per cent success rate for remands. He said: “We are sat there in court because it is that important and that necessary that this person is remanded in custody.”

The officers told delegates that when Operation Dragoon was launched they anticipated the focus would be on young drivers and modified vehicles, but had found a ‘massive link’ to criminals including drug dealers and sex offenders. The team, which includes one sergeant and eight constables, now believe Operation Dragoon should be rolled out nationally. PC Clare added: “It is an effective system that is proven to work.”