Sussex Police’s Specialist Enforcement Unit (SEU) was set up in January last year to tackle dangerous offenders on the road network and to disrupt the supply of drugs into the county.
Police said the team of highly-trained officers and detectives has clocked up more than 21,000 policing hours across three divisions and been involved in more than 400 arrests.
They have worked on murder investigations, tackled drugs offences, responded to driving offences and helped catch dangerous offenders and suspects wanted on warrants, police said.
Just this month the unit seized weapons, drugs and £45,000 following a vehicle stop in East Grinstead.
“The launch of the Specialist Enforcement Unit a year ago increased our ability to deter, detect and disrupt serious criminals intent on travelling into Sussex to commit offences,” said chief constable Jo Shiner.
“Officers have provided extra, visible and robust policing on Sussex’s roads, using both marked and unmarked vehicles equipped with the latest technology to identify and intercept known offenders, target hot spots, and support colleagues in making the roads safer for everyone,” she said.
Chief constable Shiner said the roads are a ‘prime hunting ground’ for police because most criminals have to use them, including those engaged in drugs, violent crime, people trafficking, child exploitation and theft.
“I am delighted with the difference officers have made so far,” she said.
“The SEU has been relentless in its pursuit and capture of some of our most dangerous and prolific criminals by denying them use of the roads.”
Police said SEU officers cover hundreds of miles of Sussex’s road network daily, carrying out proactive patrols and working closely with colleagues like the Roads Policing Unit (RPU), Serious Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), Border Force, Community Investigations Teams, the Force Intelligence Bureau, and divisional officers.
The unit has also helped forge effective working partnerships with neighbouring forces in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey and with the Metropolitan Police.
Police added that the successes include more than 50 pre-emptive vehicle tactics used, 1,125 intelligence logs submitted, 556 stop searches, 222 vehicle seizures, and 96 weapons being seized.
The unit has helped with the safeguarding of vulnerable people by completing 75 referrals and has supported colleagues with 280 reports for minor traffic offences, they said.
The unit was established as part of a series of police enforcement teams – including the Tactical Enforcement Units, the Rural Crime Team and extra Roads Policing Unit officers – to be launched across Sussex in the past two years funded by the Government’s Uplift programme and local precept investment.
Sussex Police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne praised the unit’s ‘successful, crime-busting first year’.
She said: “I am delighted to see the extra investment that has enabled the SEU to be established has led to so many positive results in getting the most dangerous and prolific criminals off our roads and protecting our communities, especially those who are most vulnerable.”