Police Interceptors: Special Edition

Friday 1st May 8.00pm

Natalie Pinkham presents more high-octane action from the elite police interception unit in Essex. In the last episode of the series, a drink- driver comes to regret failing to stop for the traffic cops; a risk-taking biker rides his luck; the police interceptors turn into party interrupters; and Natalie becomes a violently deranged person.

When pulling over a suspicious vehicle, the Essex police never know quite what to expect. From the people they meet to the items they find in the cars, it is a job full of surprises. It is after midnight in the Epping area when the Stanway team is called into action. A speeding red BMW has failed to stop for regular units, so driver Andy Fitch and observer Mark Edmonds take over the pursuit. “It’s precisely what we’re trained for,” says Andy. “As soon as we hear that call, we go for it.”

After a high-speed chase, the BMW driver realises that he is fighting a losing battle and pulls over, where he is boxed in by Andy’s car and another unit. The driver is clearly drunk and is also found to be in possession of a vicious-looking knuckleduster. But the situation turns from drama into sitcom for the officers when they meet the passenger – a besuited boozer who claims to be a ‘respectable individual’. It emerges that passenger and driver had been at the same nightclub, when one offered the other a ride home. “I think he was a bit bewildered,” says Mark of the passenger. “He wasn’t expecting to be arrested!” The driver earned himself a two-year driving ban and an 18-month community order. No further action was taken against the unsuspecting passenger.

An arrest for the Essex police often involves months of hard work, initiative and dedication. Sometimes, however, it is simply a case of heading down to the local hotspots on a Friday night. Such is the situation in Colchester one evening, when Dave Williams and Grant Snow are called to deal with an assault at an Essex University event. “When we turned up we were aware it was a large- scale incident,” says Grant. “But we didn’t know exactly what we were going into.”

A lively drum-and-bass night is in full swing when the interceptors arrive on scene. “[There were] a lot of people, a lot of drink and probably a lot of other substances as well,” recalls Dave. One man has hit another over the head with a chair and is promptly arrested, but the takedowns do not stop there. It seems the longer they remain in the vicinity of the club, the more crime the officers witness. Before long, two more men have been cuffed for drug offences, and another partygoer joins his friends for hurling abuse at the police and threatening the cameraman. By this stage, however, the interceptors have run out of handcuffs and must use Velcro leg restraints to subdue the last offender. “It was a busy night!” says Grant.

The story of the interceptors’ next takedown begins in the sky, where Russ Woolford of the Air Support Unit can track criminals from afar. A report has come in of a motorcyclist driving very dangerously. When Russ takes to the air in the chopper, he uses long-distance cameras to locate the biker – who is now weaving in and out of traffic in a residential area at speeds of over 100mph. “That was only going to result in one thing if he did that often enough,” says Russ of the reckless driver.

With cameras that can accurately record the action from over a mile away, the police helicopter is able to pursue the biker without any risk to other road users. After riding for some time – often on the wrong side of the road – the crazed motorcyclist eventually pulls into a garage to refuel. It is here that the ground units can safely approach and make the arrest. Totally unaware of the helicopter, the reckless rider thinks he has got away with his offence – until he is surrounded by the interceptors.

Also this week, Natalie learns how the interceptors take control of violent criminals when she dons all manner of protective gear and turns into a violently deranged person (VDP) during a training exercise. “I see red padding, I see baseball bats – what have I let myself in for?” she asks.

Friday 24th April 8.00pm

Natalie Pinkham presents more high-octane action from the elite police interception unit in Essex. This instalment features a high-speed pursuit that takes the officers off-road, a routine stop that provides the interceptors with some tasty results and a tracker activation that turns into a major haul. Elsewhere, Natalie joins the police dog unit to find hidden drugs and experiences life on the wrong side of the law.

This week’s action kicks off with a call alerting the interceptors to a stolen Toyota making its way to Essex from London. The driver has been involved in a mini crime wave in the capital and needs to be apprehended as quickly as possible. Roger Watson starts the pursuit in the Evo, but soon realises that the criminal is prepared to go to any lengths to escape – including driving the wrong way round a roundabout. “The car came up from one of the other exits and drove straight at me,” recalls Roger. With the Toyota driver intent on ramming his way to freedom, Sgt Danny Barnes and Russ Jardine provide backup from their unmarked BMW.

The Toyota continues to try to outpace the interceptors throughout the town, reaching speeds of 90mph in built-up areas. However, the police have a surprise waiting just around the corner – a stinger vehicle. With lightning reactions, an officer lying in wait for the car thief fires a specially made device across the road to burst the Toyota’s tyres, before retracting the gadget in time for the Evo to pass. “That was one of the best stings I’ve seen in a very long time,” says Danny.

The effect of the sting is instantaneous and the criminal can no longer control the vehicle on the road, choosing instead to drive down a grassy bank and into a field where the interceptors make the arrest. The operation is a success, though Russ ends up getting some stick from the lads for hitting a bin while following the Toyota off the road, sustaining a dent to the front of the BMW. “It was quite amusing to be fair,” says Russ of his colleagues’ decision to place the damaged bin on top of his desk back at HQ.

For pursuits that occur in the dead of night, the interceptors have another trick up their sleeves. When a call comes in at 11.30pm reporting a stolen Subaru Impreza on its way up the coast from Kent, the air-support unit takes to the air. Using thermal- imaging cameras, the helicopter keeps sight of the car and directs officers on the ground. After a short drive, the fleeing criminal loses control of the powerful car and hits a wall in Southend. The driver and two passengers then try to escape on foot, but are being tracked from the air. Despite going to ground in the pitch black, the crooks are unable to escape the thermal cameras and are quickly taken down. “They make the difference between catching these people and not,” says Russ Woolford of the high-tech cameras.

Back in the light of day, Sgt Danny Barnes is driving in the countryside near Basildon when he notices an uninsured car. Once the vehicle is stopped, Danny is convinced that the drivers are guilty of more than just driving without insurance. Sure enough, a search of the car reveals a quantity of drug paraphernalia – and some stolen joints of meat. “It’s a quick and easy sell,” says Danny, explaining that the meat would have no doubt been sold for drug money. “No vegetables, no roast potatoes – they weren’t going for a Sunday lunch!”

Elsewhere, Steve Tisseyre springs into action when a luxury Range Rover with a tracking device is reported stolen. Using GPS, Steve quickly pinpoints the car’s location. It turns out that the Range Rover has been fraudulently obtained from a dealership. But this particular thief has been prolific – when Steve arrives at the address, he also locates a stolen Mercedes and two hot Audis! What started off as a simple tracker activation has ended up being a big haul for the interceptors.

Also this week, Natalie gets a taste of life on the wrong side of the law as she is pulled over, breathalysed, searched, fingerprinted and thrown into a cell. And, once granted her freedom again, the intrepid presenter joins the specialist police dog unit to see how the canine experts look for hidden drugs.

Friday 17th April 8.00pm

Natalie Pinkham presents more high-octane action from the police interception unit in Essex. In the latest instalment, Natalie gets airlifted to safety by the Police Marine Unit and goes behind the scenes to locate stolen high-value cars at Tilbury Docks. She also discovers the dangers of drug-driving and watches on as the interceptors track some shifty shoplifters.

With a population of 1.3 million people and a network of major motorways, Essex is a tough patch to police. This special edition series takes a look at the work of the interceptor team – 20 hand- picked officers who are specially trained to drive at high speeds. Going behind the scenes of the interceptors’ best hits and takedowns, presenter Natalie Pinkham reveals the inside story of some of the high-action captures and shocking crashes.

With fast cars and the latest kit, the police interceptors are the new kids on the block in the fight against crime. The government is spending big money on cutting-edge technology and highly trained officers. Using Essex as a testing ground, they have created the hardest-hitting police unit in the country.

The interceptor vehicles have been adapted from rally cars and are capable of massive acceleration. They boast a range of gadgets, including tracking devices linked to a super-computer at HQ. The unit is also aided by a fully equipped helicopter, which is fitted with a long-range telephoto lens that can read a number plate from several miles away.

In this week’s edition, Natalie finds herself in the thick of the action once again when the Police Marine Unit swoops in to airlift her to safety. Later, she follows a police operation to seize a clutch of stolen motors at Tilbury Docks.

Elsewhere, Natalie follows more high-speed chases, learns the shocking truth about drug-driving in the UK and watches on as the interceptors turn their might to bear on a group of crafty shoplifters.

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