MORE than 240 gangland cars have been taken off Scotland’s roads after an experimental joint operation by traffic and regular police.

Local and roads officers joined forces in what are called “crime cars” in areas where they believed criminals were using vehicles.

The joint teams have dealt with 653 routine traffic offences but have also seized 241 vehicles belonging to criminals as well as thousands of pounds worth of drugs and cash.

Such crime cars started patrolling in Edinburgh and the Lothians early last year and have since been rolled out in Fife and the Forth Valley.

Roads policing has always been about more than speeding and drink-driving. Chief Inspector Mark Patterson explained: “Criminals use the road network to travel around to commit crime and transport the proceeds of their offending. “Often they will travel in vehicles that are not roadworthy or without insurance or a licence. By using intelligence gathered by local officers alongside officers trained in road traffic matters and advanced driving, we have been able to target key offenders who are causing most harm to our communities.”

Such joint teams stop any vehicle causing concern, even if it is not part of their intelligence operation.

Mr Patterson said: “The officers have stopped drivers who were six and nine times over the drink drive limit and one speeding at 127mph. “They have also recovered a firearm, arrested a man who was wanted on a European Extradition Warrant, and seized three vehicles from the same woman.

“Two hundred and forty one vehicles linked to criminality have been taken off Scotland’s roads, and the work does not stop at that point.

Other officers have been able to take up the investigations and we have gone on to seize a further £400,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act and £550,000 of cannabis cultivations, just from one apprehension.”

Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson said: “The pilots have been so successful that Crime Cars are operating across the East of Scotland every day, and other policing divisions are considering introducing them.

“The message to those looking to use roads in the East for the purposes of committing crime or travelling to commit crime is clear – the Crime Cars are on patrol and will continue to act on intelligence and stop suspicious or concerning vehicles to deal with criminality and make our roads safer for everyone.”