A NEW style of 'unpredictable policing' has come into force in North Yorkshire today.

Project Servator is a new way of working for the force, which sees covert and highly visible officers deployed alongside dogs, armed officers, CCTV and ANPR cameras in busy town and city centres, and at major events - such as the Tour de Yorkshire, later this month.

York Press:

Superintendent Mark Grange and Chief Inspector Fiona Willey of North Yorkshire Police’s Proactive Policing Command announced the launch of the project at Fulford Road police station on Tuesday, and said Servator - Latin for 'watcher' - will target criminals from pickpockets to terrorists around York.

York Press:

Supt Grange said the unpredictability of the intelligence-led operation would deter and disrupt crime, and was based on tactics developed in a five-year pilot by the Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) and City of London Police, and already adopted by British Transport Police, Essex Police, Ministry of Defence Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.

Supt Grange urged the public not to be alarmed by heavy police presence in the city, but said the success of the project also relied on the public reporting suspicious behaviour to police.

He said: "The active support of the public, community and businesses is key to the success of Project Servator. Our officers have already been engaging with businesses and the local community over the last month to introduce them to the concept and to explain the vital role that they have to play.

"Please don’t be surprised or alarmed if you see a heavy police presence in York today and at other locations around the County in the coming weeks and months. Keep in mind that these are normal police operations that will deter, detect and disrupt a broad range of criminal activity. The deployments are designed to be unpredictable and can turn up at any time. One day our tactics may be highly visible, the next we will be working in a more covert way."

The force said Servator was different to existing tactics as "it uses officers specially trained in disruptive effects" - a method of creating a hostile environment towards criminals to help prevent attacks, making potential targets less vulnerable. There would be no change to existing shifts for officers, and no extra costs associated with the scheme, other than for public communications - encouraging people to take part.

The new project, police said, was not a reaction to recent events, but had been in the pipeline for some time following the success of the pilot project, and Police Scotland's results using it during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Chief Inspector Fiona Willey said: "These tactics are not in response to a specific threat or the recent tragic events in Westminster, but have been in the planning stages since September 2016. They will be rolled-out across the county in the coming months as part of our continuing work to help keep North Yorkshire safe by collaborating with our partners and the communities that we serve."

Any suspicious behaviour should be reported to police in person, on 101 or 999 in an emergency, or by phoning the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789321.