A NEW crackdown on anti-social and dangerous driving across Leeds is underway.

Operation SPARC (Supporting Partnership Action to Reduce Road Casualties) will see officers from West Yorkshire Police's roads policing unit targeting drivers who are putting themselves or others at risk.

SPARC is set to run for six months and the patrols will be city-focused to begin with - though Otley and Yeadon councillors hope danger spots in their areas could be visited too.

The programme is set to run for at least six months and will focus on motorists who are speeding, using mobile phones or are suspected to be under the influence of drugs or drink.

Anyone deemed to be driving aggressively, or found to be driving without insurance, will also face enforcement action.

The goal of the operation, which will run alongside ongoing work being carried out by Neighbourhood Policing Teams, is to make local roads safer for everyone: including the increasing number of people who want to use alternatives to the car.

Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Climate Change, Transport and Sustainable Development, Councillor Lisa Mulherin, said: "We have listened to calls from the public for tougher action on illegal, dangerous and/or inconsiderate driving.

"Road danger is one of the key barriers to more people feeling confident to walk and cycle more around Leeds.

"This additional police enforcement should help to remove some of those barriers and support council ambitions for a step-change in travel behaviour, away from car use and towards walking, cycling and scooting as a natural, everyday choice, especially for shorter trips."

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said: "I would always welcome the police spending extra time trying to tackle the problem of dangerous driving.

"This seems seems to have got worse during lockdown and local councillors have received an increasing number of complaints, particularly about speeding.

"We have raised these with the police and hope that the sites we have identified - mostly main routes through Otley and Yeadon - can be targeted."

Chief Inspector Richard Padwell meanwhile, who leads on road safety for the Safer Leeds partnership, described Operation SPARC as a 'landmark initiative...to help prevent collisions involving deaths and serious injury on our roads'.

He added: "The pilot scheme will use an evidence-based approach to pinpoint the areas where the issues are greatest, and focus regular proactive operations by specialist roads policing officers in those areas. Local neighbourhood teams and our off-road bike team will also be targeting their activities in support.

“The initiative will bring greater co-ordination of our efforts across the police and council and build on a number of existing road safety interventions."

The council-funded project is part of a wider programme to reduce road danger and support greener, healthier forms of travel via Active Travel Neighbourhood Schemes.

Such schemes - Otley is one of the communities in line to get one - will see a variety of measures, including dedicated cycle lanes and widened footpaths, introduced to promote cycling and walking.