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Police crackdown on court runaways

PUBLISHED: 12:24 03 February 2009 | UPDATED: 09:49 11 August 2010

OFFENDERS who have failed to appear at court should expect an unwelcome knock on the door this month, as police launch a major crackdown on absconders. Last Monday officers in Barking and Dagenham began a four week intensive campaign to arrest low to medi

OFFENDERS who have failed to appear at court should expect an unwelcome knock on the door this month, as police launch a major crackdown on absconders.

Last Monday officers in Barking and Dagenham began a four week intensive campaign to arrest low to medium risk wanted criminals.

As well as 'failed to appear' offenders, police are also targeting recently released prisoners who have violated parole terms and individuals who have breached community penalty orders

The campaign forms the second part of Operation Starcraft. The first phase saw dozens of Christmas cards being sent out, offering absconders the chance to hand themselves in.

Police say some people took up the offer, but for those who ignored the warning, a special team of officers has been formed to round them up.

Last week the POST joined the officers as they made one of these arrests.

The offender, who claimed to be a doctor, looked embarrassed to be accompanied out of his home in Dagenham by two officers, after a missed court appearance.

The 40-year-old had put his wife's tax disc on his un-roadworthy car, so he could buy some last minute presents on Christmas Eve.

He was spotted by police and charged with fraudulent use of a tax disc, and driving without insurance. He was also been charged with owning a police gore-tex jacket, which was found lying in his car. He claimed it was to deter thieves.

When asked to explain his failed court appearance, he said he had already told court staff he was on holiday that week.

As no record of this could be found the man was arrested and taken to Barking Court.

The Starcraft team has been bringing in around ten offenders a day since the campaign launch, charged with anything from minor road offences to burglary.

Ch Insp Nick Hancock said: "Before Christmas, 41 individuals were sent cards and 18 have now attended court or have identified new addresses.

"We are stepping up our action with morning raids and gathering information from Government agencies to track down every person wanted by court.

Operation Starcraft ends next week.


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