The Havering Daily was invited for a ride along with members of ‘Operation Gambler’ on friday night.
Operation Gambler was set up by East Area Command’s Sargent Ben Tanner to tackle crime across the borders of London into Essex.
Sargent Tanner spoke exclusively to the Havering Daily, ‘It became apparent to me that groups were crossing the borders from Essex with stolen vehicles. These groups knew that often police stop at the borders and so we saw stolen vehicles and drug dealing going on.
‘I set up this operation up to specifically target the borders and the crimes going on there. This is a joint operation with the help of Essex Police, Essex Roads Policing, Essex Police Dogs and East Area proactive teams. We also use Essex Special Constables and our own who give up their own time to work with us.’
Friday night was the fifth operation to take place across the borders. Sargent Tanner continued; “Operation Gambler has been running for three months now and we have seen over thirty people arrested and numerous stolen vehicles recovered. We use six different police teams all under one umbrella and engage in old school, proactive policing.”
‘We often get criticised for not doing enough to catch burglars, this operation uses overt and covert vehicles to help tackle this. Hopefully this will be a permanent solution to targeting this problem.
‘We are seeing a number of London criminals going into Essex, so with operation gambler it will make them think again before crossing the borders and committing crime.’
Friday night was action packed as I first attended a briefing at 6.30pm with around fifty officers from both sides of the border. Twenty five cars were used from both Met and Essex police.
I was placed with two police officers Mark and Sam. Mark is an advanced trained driver and Sam operates the multiple radio system. One of these radios was connected to the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), another to the Essex police channel and the other to the Met control channel. I can let you know that these radios never stop and these officers are not only driving at incredible speeds using some amazing driving skills, but also listening out to information passed out on the radio.
The first call of the night saw us literally zooming down the A12 with what is commonly called ‘blues and twos’ heading towards Brentwood in search of a car heading towards Nags Head Lane which has triggered the ANPR.
‘We then head towards Cranham after a BMW X1 that has been chased many times before. We then head towards south Hornchurch along the A1306 checking the number plates of various cars along the way.
The night never stops for these officers who are a hundred per cent committed to their job and chasing down criminals.
A call came threw whilst we were in Rainham stating that there were drugs being sold at the Saxon Horn car park, so we sped there and the officers boxed them in and three males were spoken to in connection with drugs.
‘At one stage during the night we are behind a moped which then starts to speed away after noticing we are behind him, surprise, surprise. The moped then decided to drive down the A1306 the wrong way to get away and by the time we can turn around, the moped has sped off.
Officer Mark has a fantastic sixth sense for spotting things that just don’t seem right and has an amazing photographic memory that remembers number plates. He really is a credit to the force.
The officers reveal that Facebook groups play a big part these days in gathering information and intelligence.
Sadly speeding mopeds are a large part of the evening and police drivers often feel that their hands are tied in having the ability to catch them. Front line officers work non stop and put themselves on the line every moment they go on duty, sadly they don’t often have the ability to police as they should and would like to.
This is a fantastic operation that uses police resources to the best of their ability and applies old school policing to track down and catch criminals.