VIDEO: Police stop 50 cars in day of action
THE number of car drivers flouting the law on Bristol's streets has been shown up by a police operation.
The crackdown, based around one city street, found almost half of drivers stopped could have posed a danger to themselves or others.
More than 50 suspect cars and vans were checked in Lawrence Hill and Easton yesterday as part of the force's Operation Relentless campaign against persistent criminals.
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• Five people were arrested
• Five cars and vans were seized
• Suspected laundered money was found
• 14 warning notices were issued ordering drivers to get faults fixed
• Five people were put under investigation for suspected benefit fraud
• Two drivers were fined for running their vehicles on illegal fuel.
Based on Croydon Street, Upper Easton, the operation was a combined effort by Avon and Somerset police, Gwent police, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, HM Revenue and Customs and the Department of Work and Pensions' Fraud Investigation Unit.
From 8am, PCSOs with local knowledge ushered any vehicles that appeared suspicious or unroadworthy into the VOSA car park for closer inspection.
Elsewhere, police cars equipped with Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras looked for vehicles linked to offences while officers on motorbikes patrolled the streets keeping an eye out for any blatant offending.
By the time the operation was over, 57 vehicles and been stopped and examined, as had their drivers' credentials.
Chief Constable Colin Port observed the crackdown first-hand, and told the Post: "Today, we have seized vehicles that should never be on the road. The drivers risk being involved in an accident, putting their lives, and the lives of the public at risk.
"This operation is also a great example of how we can work effectively with our neighbouring police forces and our partners on effective operations like these."
The five people arrested were questioned on suspicion of possessing drugs with intent to supply, driving while disqualified, being wanted on an outstanding warrant and two people were brought in for questioning on suspicion of money laundering after unexplained cash was found in the car they were travelling in.
After checking drivers' names on their systems, the Fraud Investigation Unit is now looking at five people suspected of falsely claiming benefits.
As cars with faulty brake lights, worn tyres and other dangerous defects were brought in, VOSA ended up issuing 14 warning notices telling people to get faults fixed or face prosecution.
But it was not just the exterior of vehicles under scrutiny. Every diesel van or lorry brought in had its fuel checked by an HMRC inspector.
One van was found to be running on so-called "red diesel" and another on kerosene, both of which are illegal because fuel duty has not been paid on the fuel. The two drivers were fined £500 each.
Of the vehicles seized, one was an unroadworthy silver Audi, which police officers had to push to a parking space because it failed to start when they tried to move it.
When told he would have to pay to get his car recovered, the driver walked off in disgust, saying he couldn't afford it because he was on job seeker's allowance. Several on-the-spot fines were also dished out for faults on cars checked during the operation.
Four drug sniffer dogs were on hand to search vehicles under suspicion.
PC Alan Hicks, who was leading the operation yesterday, said: "The message we want to get across is that we will be relentless in trying to keep people in Bristol and across the force area safe.
"Community co-operation makes these operations a success.
"As we approach the winter months, we also want to get across a seasonal message about making sure vehicles are safe, roadworthy and that drivers are well-prepared for any inclement weather."
Watch the police in action here: