THERE was a heavy police presence at York Station on Saturday as part of an operation to tackle anti-social behaviour and violent crime in the city.

British Transport Police teamed up with North Yorkshire Police for Operation Viking.

More than 20 police officers, as well as security staff brought in for the joint operation, aimed to make visitors and residents feel safe by confiscating alcohol from commuters, using stop and search to deal with drug offences, and challenging people acting in an anti-social manner.

Commuters had to leave the station near the short stay car park rather than via the main entrance and exit.

Police dogs were used and a team of behavioural detection officers, trained to spot people acting suspiciously, travelled from Birmingham to support the operation.

The operation was being led by Sgt Katherine Wood and Sgt James Finch, both of British Transport Police.

Sgt Wood said: "The aim is to reduce and prevent anti-social behaviour.

"Generally on Saturdays we have an influx of people coming into the city centre for drinking. On Saturday night we run a regular operation called Operation Vangarde.

"The aim today [Saturday] is to bring that operation forward and turn it into a whole day event.

"It's showing people that we don't want any problems. We want them to have a good day.

"It poses a warning to people that we are not going to accept anti-social behaviour."

Officers had the power to issue dispersal notices to people, directing them to leave York if they were causing anti-social behaviour at the station.

Sgt Finch added: "We want people to like coming to York and have a good time but we draw the line when they start behaving in a disorderly drunken manner.

"The purpose of the operation is to prevent people engaging in anti-social behaviour, violent crime and partaking in recreational drug use."

At the station, commuters who arrived in York were asked to show their train tickets or buy a ticket if they did not have one.

In the afternoon, British Transport Police officers headed from the station into the city centre to carry out foot patrols with North Yorkshire Police officers. 

"The aim is to check on the behaviour and demeanour of people travelling by train in the evening," Sgt Finch said.

Sgt Wood commented: "If people are not in a fit state to travel back they won't be travelling."