Sentinel team makes more than 500 arrests in a year

A team set up to disrupt criminality on the county’s roads, protect local communities and tackle cross-border criminality has made 554 arrests and stopped more than 1,000 vehicles in the past year.

The three Operation Sentinel teams were set up in 2019 to provide enhanced coverage of Suffolk’s road network. Based across the county, they proactively disrupt serious and organised criminal activity as well as increase police visibility.

In total 554 arrests were made between 23 June 2021 and 23 June 2022 for a variety of offences, with 175 charges brought and 26 custodial sentences given, alongside 13 suspended sentences, 75 driving disqualifications and 107 fines given.

23 people also had points added to their licences, 10 people were ordered to provide community service, while thirteen people were given community orders. In total 246 vehicles were seized. 

Custodial sentences include the 29-month prison sentence given to Leonard Gjoni, 29, then of no-fixed-abode, who was sentenced in February after previously pleading guilty to possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply, possession of an identity document with improper intention, driving other than in accordance with a licence, and driving without insurance.

You can view a video of Gjoni being stopped and detained in Ipswich on 27 November 2021 here: Man jailed in connection with the supply of cocaine in Ipswich on Vimeo.

As well as targeting organised criminals’ use of Suffolk’s road network, the Sentinel teams support the force’s response policing and Safer Neighbourhood Teams and offer additional operational options, making use of a wide range of proactive policing tactics and technology.

These include Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and mobile fingerprint devices to identify and intercept criminals, frustrate their activities and make Suffolk a hostile place for criminals to operate.

Detective Superintendent Dave Giles said: The Op Sentinel teams play such as important role in Suffolk, keeping our residents safe by actively targeting those using our road network to carry out their illicit activities, which is often the cause of misery for many within the county.

“Our officers are highly effective at detecting these criminals and their activities; and they continue to go from strength to strength. These results show how important these officers and the skills they bring are to our force.”

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore added: “The Sentinel teams were funded by Suffolk residents through the council tax precept and as the arrests show, the investment really is paying dividends. This proactive policing approach is exactly what the people of Suffolk asked for, so I am delighted to see it having such a dramatic impact.

"Suffolk is one of the safest counties in the country, but that's not to say there aren't challenges which the constabulary needs to be equipped to deal with. These three Sentinel teams are helping to proactively disrupt serious and organised criminal activity as well as increase police visibility, which is great news for us all.”