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Radio 4 visits Lichfield to see multi-agency crime operation

Officers from Lichfield District Council joined forces with officers from East Staffordshire Borough Council, Staffordshire Police, HM Revenues & Customs, VOSA, and Job Centre Plus to tackle illegal commercial vehicles travelling on local roads.

Radio Four also attended Operation Steelback to find out first-hand how agencies work together to make local roads a safe place to be.

Cllr Ian Pritchard, Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Health and Environmental Protection, explained: “We carry out regular stop and search operations to help make sure vehicles travelling on our roads are safe and properly licensed.

“On Friday, our partnership team stopped more 44 commercial vehicles and carried out a number of tests. These ranged from a mini MOT to see if the vehicles were roadworthy, through to checking the fuel in vehicles to see if drivers are using illegal and dangerous fuels, like red diesel and kerosene.

“Our officers also asked drivers to show them a copy of their waste carriers licence and duty of care receipts to show they are transporting and disposing of any waste correctly at approved sites. A team from Job Centre Plus also checked that people on board were claiming the right benefits.”

The partnership team stopped 44 vehicles at a lay-by in Lichfield District on the A5. The team from HM Revenues & Customs dipped all the vehicle’s tanks and found one vehicle was using red diesel illegally.

The team from VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) issued eight prohibition notices to vehicles that were unsafe.

The police team seized one vehicle for having no insurance, and fined one person for using a mobile phone whilst driving.

The team from Job Centre Plus identified four people who are claiming benefits incorrectly, and the team from Lichfield District and East Staffordshire Borough councils issued 12 notices to vehicles that could not produce the correct waste carriers licence.

Cllr Pritchard concluded: “We were delighted to welcome Radio 4 along to Operation Steelback, so they could see first-hand how operations like this help to drive up the standards of the vehicles on our roads. We also explained how they help to make our local areas cleaner by discouraging people from dumping waste illegally. I’d like to say thank you to all the officers who took part.”

Councillor Robert Hardwick, East Staffordshire Borough Council’s Deputy Leader for Regulatory Services, added: “Fly tipping is something that costs councils thousands of pounds to clear up each year. By targeting businesses or individuals who carry waste as part of their business or for profit, we can ensure that they have the correct licence and prevent fly tipping on our roads and highways. Yet again, we have proved that effective partnership working can combat illegal activity on the roads.”

Sgt Rob Gilligan, of Staffordshire Police’s Road Policing Team, said: “This joint operation forms part of Staffordshire Police’s ongoing work to make Staffordshire’s roads safer and is an excellent example of how we work with our partners to tackle a wide range of issues.”

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