CRIMINAL investigations into people who target vulnerable people are being boosted by police.
Fraudsters who prey on the elderly, burglars who repeatedly target homes and those who abuse children are all in the sights of Operation Hawk.
Formerly the burglary unit, for the last six months the team has been working on specialist cases.
Based at Fratton police station, it was drawn up as Hampshire police remodel in an effort to tackle crime that needs specialist investigative support.
Detective Sergeant Martin Longyear leads the team, which supports other investigation teams.
‘Our ultimate aim is to show any criminal that committing crime full stop doesn’t pay, but targeting any type of vulnerable person especially the young and the elderly to either make a criminal living or get your kicks is not going to happen.’
Recent investigations include leading the probe into football-related violent disorder in Portsmouth and child sexual exploitation cases.
The team also take on responsibility for targeting rogue traders, under the national campaign Op Liberal.
Det Sgt Longyear leads five PCs, one police staff investigator and a detective constable, all chosen for their specialist skills.
Part of their work includes obtaining and executing search warrants, searching properties and making arrests.
Another officer liaises with pawn shops daily in a bid to track down stolen property.
And the team also operates the Clean Slate programme, where offenders who admit to all their crimes are helped in starting afresh.
Michael Lane, Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner, has backed the Op Hawk team, making reference to the recent Queen’s Speech.
The team was drawn up in a response to the Police and Crime Plan he set for the county’s force.
He said: ‘The Queen’s Speech identifies amongst other areas, priorities and bills relating to domestic violence and abuse, mental health and very understandably given recent events counter-terrorism.
‘These resonate and cascade to the local impact of my Police and Crime Plan and the particular value of Op Hawk.’
Op Hawk was initially established more than two years ago as the burglary unit team.