A CRACKDOWN against human trafficking and terrorism targeted Greenock yesterday with a slew of container lorries from Ocean Terminal stopped and checked by specialist officers.

The operation involving Border Force agents, Police Scotland's Small Ports Team, roads officers and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency ran for several hours at the James Watt Dock area.

Inspector David Bradley, of Greenock police — who co-ordinated the multi-agency taskforce — told the Telegraph that organised crime also formed part of the Europol-led initiative.

Insp Bradley said: "This one involves a particular area around labour servitude, which is a form of people trafficking where labour is exploited.

"However, we have also rolled that into meeting some of the local priorities around Inverclyde.

"Certainly, part of our local policing regarding road safety is a big issue, as well as organised crime and counter-terrorism as well."

The operation was carried out under the auspices of Europol's EMPACT, which stands for European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats.

An overall squad of 16 people from the various agencies involved took part in what is set to become a regular undertaking in Inverclyde.

Insp Bradley said: "The way we've managed to tackle it is with a number of experts from different partner agencies.

"On the education and awareness side, we've also got Border Force and our own counter-terrorism liaison officers and our own small ports team.

"This helps us build up an information picture about what's coming in and out of our port, which is obviously a large, major west coast port."

He added: "The plan was to look at larger vehicles, but not limited to larger vehicles, scanning and reviewing them to see that they're complying with road traffic law and what we call construction use regulations.

"But also at the same time we have taken the opportunity to educate drivers on counter-terrorism awareness and people trafficking awareness because it is often information that will come from those drivers that'll provide us with intelligence to deal with things.

"Particularly with a large port like Greenock it's important that we develop a good information picture around what's coming and going."

Insp Bradley has been based in the town for the last four-and-a-half years, having previously served as a military police officer in both the Australian Army and British Army. He joined the former Strathclyde Police seven years ago.

He said: "Border Force have a plan to move into the port at some point in the future and we want to make sure that our relationship is very strong with them to be able to work together with them.

"This particular road here is a large transit area for road haulage vehicles coming back and forth."