Sunderland man charged as police use YouTube and Facebook to target dangerous drivers

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A MAN from Sunderland has been arrested as police use social media to crackdown on dangerous drivers.

Andrew Barnes, 19, of Howard Street, Sunderland, has been charged with dangerous driving and making a false statement to obtain insurance.

He was arrested as Northumbria Police launched Operation Dragoon, which involves officers scanning YouTube and Facebook to look for dangerous drivers who post pictures and video of their antics online.

In 2013 there were 384 serious injuries and 28 people lost their lives as a result of collisions in the force area.

Motor Patrols Acting Chief Inspector John Heckels said Operation Dragoonwas launched in direct response to dangerous drivers who are putting innocent drivers’ lives at risk on the region’s roads.

The motor patrols operation will involve officers pro-actively targeting those who are known to police as dangerous drivers, seizing their cars and taking them off the roads.

Officers will also be using social media sites like Facebook and Youtube to identify, track down and take action against dangerous drivers.

Motor Patrols Acting Chief Inspector John Heckels said: “People are being needlessly killed on our roads by dangerous drivers and we will not stand by and let it happen. We are determined to take decisive action to deal with this issue.

“To lose a life needlessly because of the reckless and irresponsible driving of others is something we must stop.

“As part of their regular daily duties motor patrols officers will be on the look out for cars driving dangerously on the roads.

“They will be stopping and speaking to drivers and making sure their vehicles are roadworthy. Those who are found to breaking the law face being arrested and having their cars taken off the road.

He added: “Officers will be checking social media sites and looking to identify individuals who drive dangerously and post footage and images online.

“They will then visit drivers, speak to them and take action where appropriate - this may involve people being arrested and having their cars seized.”

The operation is already underway, and so far, 15 drivers have been spoken to and ten vehicles have been seized by police.

Eight people have been charged with a range of offences including racing on the highway, dangerous driving and making false statements to obtain insurance. They will appear in court this month.

Further drivers will be summonsed to court for a range of offences including having dangerous modifications on their vehicles, careless driving and insurance offences.

In order to ensure the operation is a success officers are appealing for the public’s help.

Acting Chief Inspector Heckels added: “The public are our eyes and ears out on the roads and we need them to help us by telling us who these dangerous drivers are.

“Dangerous drivers run the risk of killing innocent people and it could be you, or one of your family, on the other side of a blind bend as they approach it at dangerous speeds.

“We want information from the public about who these people are so we can get them off the road.

“I would urge anyone who sees dangerous driving videos online and knows who the offenders are or anyone who perhaps knows of someone who is a dangerous driver to pass this information on to us.

“Anyone reported to police as a dangerous driver will be investigated and if officers have reasonable concerns they will be visited and spoken to. Their vehicles and insurance details will be checked and appropriate action will be taken.

“Those found putting lives at risk on the roads face being arrested, having their homes searched and their vehicles seized.

“Ring us and give us information about who the dangerous drivers are and we will do the rest. Just pass on the information - you could be saving lives.

To pass on information about dangerous drivers contact Motor Patrols officers on 101 ext 69191 quoting ‘Operation Dragoon’.

Details of the nine charged to far:

1) Mieran Al Nawrasy, 25, of Jubilee Crescent, Gosforth – Racing on a highway, make false statement to obtain insurance.

2) Craig Thompson, 25, of Beacon Glade, South Shields – Dangerous driving.

3) Michael Gibb, 24, of Horsley Avenue, Crawcrook – Racing on a highway.

4) Andrew Barnes, 19, of Howard Street, Sunderland – Dangerous driving, make false statement to obtain insurance.

5) Michael Lister, 22, of Longfield Close, South Shields – Racing on a highway.

6) James Rory Hutton ,20, of Acomb, Hexham – Dangerous driving

7) Mathew Fearn, 23, Bradbury Court, New Hartley, North Tyneside - charged with dangerous driving**

8) Vivian Townsend, 21, Sandfield Road, Cambois, Northumberland - charged with dangerous driving and make false statement to obtain insurance

**Fearn appeared at North Tyneside Mags on 13/03/14 - (within two weeks of arrest) License disqualified for 2 years and has to complete an extended test to get it back, he was also given 10 weeks suspended sentence and a supervision order for 12 months.