police chiefs in South Yorkshire have unveiled their latest weapon in their crime-fighting armoury - a surveillance truck.
The lorry is being driven along the county’s motorway network to allow officers to be on the look-out for truckers committing offences.
South Yorkshire Police said because of the height difference between lorries and cars, truckers can often get away with offending because nobody can see what they are doing.
But in a week-long crackdown officers in their own lorry will be on the look out for drivers using their mobile phones, laptops and reading behind the wheel.
While one officer drives the surveillance lorry another, armed with a video camera, records footage of truckers as they pass.
PC Darrell McPherson, who helped organise the initiative, said: “The height of the lorry gives us a different viewpoint from which to try to detect offences. Once the crew suspects a crime has been committed, colleagues in patrol cars stop and deal with the vehicle’s driver.”
Chief Supt Keith Lumley, head of South Yorkshire Police’s Operational Support Services, added: “We’ve had some significant successes since the operation began, including motorists using mobiles or electrical devices and driving in a dangerous manner.
“Any vehicle that is not being driven correctly can be a lethal weapon – especially large vehicles driven at speed. By hiring our own large goods vehicle we can help make South Yorkshire’s major roads safer.
“It’s the first time we’ve employed such a tactic, but it may not be the last.”
Chief Insp Stuart Walne, head of South Yorkshire Police’s Road Policing Group, said: “It is amazing what you see when you get to this level - some of the things we have seen have been quite frightening.
“It also gives us another view of cars so we can see exactly what offences are being committed out of our eye line.”
In the first few days of the operation 30 offences were detected.
Full results are to be compiled this week and police chiefs have vowed to repeat the operation in the future.