Operation Kestrel Targets Foreign National Offenders

Law enforcement agencies in the North East have today launched a multi-agency operation targeting foreign national offenders in the region.

Over the next two weeks Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland police forces along with Immigration Enforcement, Border Force and the North East Regional Serious and Organised Crime unit will - under Operation Kestrel - carry out disruption activity across the region targeting those involved in criminality in the North East.

Activity will target those involved in minor offences right through to serious and organised crime to send a clear message to offenders and wider communities that the region will not tolerate crime.

Northumbria Police's Assistant Chief Constable Helen McMillan is leading the activity.

She said: "The majority of people who come from abroad to live in the UK are honest, law abiding citizens and we welcome the diversity and value that brings to our communities.  Unfortunately there will always be a minority who choose to be unlawful whether that be for financial gain or simple disregard for the law.

"The purpose of Operation Kestrel and this two week activity is to target the minority who purposefully come to the UK to flout the law or commit crime while they are here, and as we would with any criminals, we are joining forces with our partners to provide a robust and proportionate response and utilise the powers that we have as law enforcement agencies to make the region even safer.

"During this activity we will also be focussing on any UK citizens and foreign nationals who may be a vulnerable victim of these criminals with our priority to safeguard and protect those who may be a victim of modern day slavery and human trafficking.

“Our diverse communities across the North East live side by side with harmonious community relations right across the region and it is the very small minority who engage in criminal activity and those who do will be dealt with robustly by law enforcement agencies."

Eddy Montgomery, Immigration Enforcement Director, said: “It is hugely beneficial for partner agencies to come together like this to build on the good practice and joint working which is already embedded in our day to day work.

“Immigration Enforcement has a diverse role, ranging from arresting and detaining those with no right to be in the UK to rooting out employers who flout right to work rules and tackling rogue landlords who let to those with no right to rent.  My officers are also trained to identify any potential trafficking victims they may encounter in their front line role and ensure they get the support that they need. The experience and expertise we bring will be key in ensuring this operation achieves its aims.”

So far, to launch the activity this morning, 12 people have been arrested on suspicion of modern day slavery offences at addresses in the West End of Newcastle. An address was also targeted in Consett.
Regular patrols will be carried out throughout the two weeks in areas affected by disruption activity to offer reassurance to any concerned residents.

British Red Cross is also supporting the operation.

John Morris, British Red Cross director of independent living and crisis response in the North of England said: "The Red Cross was asked by Northumbria Police to provide practical and emotional support to anyone evacuated as a result of this operation, at a place of safety.

"Our trained staff and volunteers have been on hand to provide emotional support, as well as practical necessities such as clothing, refreshments and first aid. The Red Cross works alongside emergency services across the UK to help those in crisis."