By Ben Holt
POLICE are to escort private security vans in a bid to stop armed robbers.
Officers will tail cash deliveries and stand watch when money is unloaded as part of a strategy targeting the gangs responsible for the heists.
The force hopes that a West Yorkshire police presence will deter crooks.
Chief Superintendent Ian Levitt said: "We are not dedicating specific resources to following these vans around but when we see one we will follow it for a short time. The idea is crime prevention. It is not about protecting the security companies from losing cash."
Mr Levitt said armed raids, such as the one at Pellon Lane Service Station, Hali-fax, last month, increased in the run up to Christmas.
He added: "We are being pro-active and up front about it. We are going to prevent these crimes taking place. Our job is the prevention and detection of crime and I would much rather prevent it in the first place than detect it. So, if there is a security van going through our area, and we have the time, I will ask officers to follow it because that could stop a crime."
The police hope the initiative will protect the public from the trauma of being caught up in an armed robbery.
West Yorkshire Police's Serious and Organised Crime Group is leading the project with a dedicated team of officers. They hope to smash the gangs behind the crimes.
Last month an armed gang escaped with tens of thousands of pounds from the raid at Pellon Lane Service Station, Halifax. A security guard was marched at gunpoint into the shop where four staff and customers were threatened, and the guard was manhandled through to the back of the building where ATM cartridges were stolen. A second masked robber brandished a crowbar.