‘This Ford Focus is falling apart’: Chasing down dodgy drivers on the road with GMP

We’ve just pulled out of the Eccles Police Station car park when PC Paul Ashworth begins getting information over his radio about a Ford Focus with part of its ‘front end hanging down’.

Police had received reports that it was involved in an accident in which it failed to stop and received further calls about other “near misses” and dangerous driving.

The car activated an ANPR camera near the Lancashire border before being ‘pinged’ on a camera at Lancs heading back towards Greater Manchester.

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Using this information, officers from PC Ashworth’s special unit at GMP are beginning to track it and make their way to the area it’s likely headed for.

PC Ashworth suddenly activates his lights and sirens and begins to accelerate when told it has been spotted on the M66 at Bury.

A Stinger on the M66 junction (Image: Manchester Evening News)

The police helicopter is sent up as PC Ashworth flies down the M60 towards Simister Island to join the operation to intercept them, flashing and beeping cars in the outside lane to get out of his way.

The smashed Ford Focus (Image: GMP Traffic (Twitter))

PC Paul Ashworth (Image: Manchester Evening News)

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Inspector Jon Middleton talks about how his team is using information from ANPR cameras

Insp. Middleton in Clifton, Salford, where the ‘cloned’ van was stopped (Image: Manchester Evening News)

Based at Eccles Police Station, the unit uses road and off-road bicycles and patrol cars (Image: Manchester Evening News)

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The van was impounded as the driver was uninsured (Image: Manchester Evening News)

A man later arrested on suspicion of immigration offenses is approached by officers after being stopped (Image: Manchester Evening News)

PC Ashworth is famous among colleagues for memorizing registration numbers (Image: Manchester Evening News)

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Insp Middleton wants cameras set up for the Clean Air Zone to become part of the force’s ANPR network so they can ‘catch more baddies’ (Image: Manchester Evening News)