We’re launching a new tactic across our force area today (Wednesday, 12 June) specifically designed to disrupt a range of criminal activity, from theft to terrorism.
Project Servator involves highly visible and unpredictable police deployments made up of officers specially trained to identify criminal intent, along with a range of other police resources including police dogs, police horses, armed police officers and police helicopters and drones.
The teams work closely with partners, businesses and the general public to encourage the reporting of any suspicious or unusual activity to police.
The effect is a network of vigilance which creates an uninviting environment for potential terrorists considering their targets and individuals looking to commit crime.
Project Servator, which is funded by Counter Terrorism Policing, was developed by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) and the City of London Police, and has been fully adopted by 13 other UK police forces.
Nationally, between 1 April, 2018 and 31 March, 2019 officers carrying out Project Servator deployments have:
- Gathered 2,413 pieces of intelligence about suspected criminal activity, 170 of which related to suspected hostile reconnaissance and terrorist activity.
- Carried out 3,331 searches, leading to 1,228 positive outcomes (arrests or drugs seizure). This means 37% of all searches resulted in a positive outcome.
- Made 891 arrests for various offences, including firearms and weapons offences, drugs, money laundering, robbery and theft, and immigration offences.
We’ve been trialling the initiative at Bristol Airport since May last year and have also since implemented it at a number of different locations and events across the force area.
Deployments are intelligence led and can turn up anywhere at any time. They will see uniformed officers speak to the public and hand out leaflets, while plain clothed officers blend into the crowd and watch for suspicious activity.
Officers will be supported by CCTV operators and security staff and may set up vehicle checkpoints while using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition).
As part of today’s launch in Bath we have produced a three minute long video demonstrating Project Servator which we are showing on a large digital screen.
Inspector Jon Hext said: “Project Servator deployments will look different to standard patrols but they are nothing to worry about. They are normal police operations designed to disrupt hostile reconnaissance – the information gathering criminals do to help them plan their activity.
“As a tactic, Project Servator has been tested by teams of specialists who behave in the same way that individuals carrying out hostile reconnaissance do to see if they are identified by police. And time and time again officers have spotted the would-be criminal.
“This is an approach to policing which has been proven to disrupt criminal activity and I hope the fact we are rolling it out across Avon and Somerset provides great reassurance to our communities.”
Insp Hext added: “Project Servator isn’t just about the police – it’s about the network of vigilance we can create with the help of our partners, businesses and members of the public.
“We all have a vital role to play in disrupting crime and I’d like everyone to have the confidence to tell us of anything that seems out place, unusual or doesn’t seem to fit in with day-to-day life. Reporting won’t ruin lives, but it could save them.
“Together, we can send a clear message to potential criminals that we are watching, we will spot you and we will stop you.”
Chris Morgan, Head of Security, Bristol Airport said: “Bristol Airport was one of the first locations in the region to deploy Project Servator officers.
“We are delighted this initiative will be extended to other areas within the region and will continue to support and collaborate with the police teams in detecting and deterring criminal activity in and around the Airport.”
Councillor Dine Romeo, Bath and North East Somerset Council leader, said: “Every year we welcome thousands of visitors and we want everyone who lives, works or visits Bath to feel safe.
“This is about working with the police and partners including Bath BID, to reassure people so we can go about our day-to-day lives and enjoy our city.”