'Together, we've got it covered' - North Yorkshire Police celebrates five years of Project Servator
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North Yorkshire Police is today (Monday 11 April) celebrating the fifth anniversary of Project Servator deployments across North Yorkshire and the City of York.
Launched in the county in 2017, Project Servator is a policing tactic that aims to disrupt a range of criminal activity, including terrorism, while providing a reassuring presence for the public.
The approach relies on unpredictable and highly visible police deployments, whilst at the same time, building a network of vigilance made up of business and community partners, and the general public.
Project Servator differs from normal policing in that, officers involved are specially-trained to spot tell-tale signs that someone may be carrying out hostile reconnaissance – information gathering that may help them plan or prepare to commit a crime.
Servator is a Latin word which means ‘watcher’ or ‘observer’, and the core principle behind the police tactic is 'Together, we've got it covered'.
Based around that, the force works with partners, including other police forces, businesses, and the public, to protect the county’s streets and everyone who lives, works, or visits North Yorkshire, making it difficult for criminals and terrorists to operate.
This includes British Transport Police at transport hubs, the Ministry of Defence Police, the Royal Military Police at military bases and the Minster Police at York Minster.
Businesses and organisations can benefit from See, Check and Notify (SCaN) training which is suspicious activity training delivered by qualified Project Servator trainers.
During a Project Servator deployment, officers arrive unannounced at various locations across the county. These patrols last for different lengths of time and involve varying numbers of officers.
The public of North Yorkshire will see, as a minimum, uniform and plain-clothes officers, but deployments sometimes also include officers from other teams such as dog or horse units or armed officers, depending on specific requirements.
Vehicle checkpoints across the county, air support from helicopters and drones are also used.
During deployments, officers talk to the public, local businesses, and private security staff to let them know what they're doing and to remind them to be vigilant, trust their instincts and report any suspicious or unusual activity.
They also display posters and digital advertising across businesses in the county and hand out handbills explaining more about Project Servator.
Commenting on the five-year anniversary, the force lead for Project Servator, Chief Inspector Fee Willey said:
“Today marks five years since we first launched Project Servator in North Yorkshire and the City of York.
“And in that time, we are incredibly proud of the network of vigilance that we have built up that comprises of businesses, community partners and the general public to make our county a difficult place for criminals and terrorists to operate.
“Everyone who lives, works or visits North Yorkshire and the City of York has a vital role to play in being our eyes and ears and reporting anything that doesn’t feel right, for example, an unattended item or someone acting suspiciously.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank every person who has played their part in keeping our county safe.”
Working with the community is a vital part of making Project Servator a success, so the force also encourages anyone who has any questions, to speak to one of their officers.
Chief Inspector Willey continues:
“Our Project Servator patrols are highly visible, but if you see our officers in your area, there's nothing to be concerned about. Come and say hello to one of our officers and find out more about the work we are doing to help keep you safe.”
Since 2018 there have been over 3,143 arrests as a result of Project Servator deployments across England and Scotland, which have seen everything from knives and drugs to stolen goods and wanted criminals being taken off the streets.
Some recent examples in North Yorkshire include:
Members of staff working in an open public space in York, having previously received training from Project Servator officers, identified a male acting suspiciously and immediately called the police. The male was located by Project Servator officers who were deployed nearby, and he was spoken to, searched and arrested for being in possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.
Whilst on another Project Servator deployment in the county, officers identified a member of the public whom they had concerns about, and enquiries are ongoing to establish if the person is a victim of human trafficking.
Arrests have also been carried out across the county, by specially trained Project Servator officers whilst on deployment, for thefts, assaults, possession of offensive weapons, driving over the prescribed limit, driving whilst disqualified, possession of drugs with intent to supply, and persons wanted for bail offences and failing to appear at court.
Whilst keeping attendees safe from a range of criminality at large-scale events, specially trained officers have also spotted and been able to reunite members of the public across all ages, who had gone missing, with their families.
This snapshot of arrests does not include arrests linked to terrorism which cannot be disclosed for operational reasons.