POLICE officers from Eastern Europe have been drafted in to help tackle foreign criminals on the county’s roads.
Operation Trivium - which launched on Monday - is a national campaign to crack down on offenders from outside the UK.
Police officers from Romania, Lithuania and Poland have come to Britain to help with the operation, which is aimed at catching travelling criminals who use the roads to avoid detection and move around the country.
It is estimated there are between 15,000 and 30,000 foreign registered vehicles present on the UK’s roads at any one time - and this week officers in Sussex are stopping vehicles linked to crime or foreign criminals or whose drivers could be committing offences.
Some travelling gangs are thought to be involved in volume offences such as shoplifting, fraud, metal theft and theft from motor vehicles, such as catalytic converters. These criminal gangs move around the country and are not linked to individual or established communities.
Any foreign nationals who are stopped will be checked against law enforcement records here and in their home countries to see if they are wanted for offences there. Their licences will be checked as well as details such as whether they are insured and if their vehicles are roadworthy.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “We believe a whole host of offences are being committed by foreign drivers on the roads in Sussex.
“This operation is aimed at taking action against those members of the Eastern European community who are breaking the law and educating them about what they need to do to stay within the law.”
On Monday, the first day of the five-day operation, a Slovakian national was arrested after he was stopped on the A259 Bexhill Road in St Leonards and gave a forged driving licence to police.
He was arrested on suspicion of using false identity documents, possessing forged documents, driving without insurance and driving without a licence. He was released on bail while officers carry out further inquiries.
Koen Ricour, the president of TISPOL, the European Traffic Police Network, said: “Good planning, effective co-ordination and clear lines of communication between us all will ensure an efficient information flow during this kind of operation. The result is better targeting of criminal gangs and better protection for European citizens.”