From Hong Kong to Humberside – meet the sergeant leading Operation Yellowfin

Sergeant Derek Hussain
Sergeant Derek Hussain

Just a few months ago Sergeant Derek Hussain was part of the successful Metropolitan Police team that were behind tackling motorbike crime across London.

He’s now transferred and working for us at Humberside Police in a similar role, and is getting very similar results through our own high profile Operation Yellowfin.

Humberside Police

Humberside Police

Derek, what brought you to Humberside?

I worked in the Met for about 11 years. My wife is from Beverley and we’d always talked about moving to Yorkshire. Luckily I saw an advert about seven months ago. Humberside Police were really trying to encourage transferees to come into the force.

I called and got an interview within days. I then got a job offer and now I’m here! Really excited to be here.

I’m originally from Hong Kong so I came to this country when I was 11 and went to school in Sussex then University in the Midlands. Like I say I started in policing about 11 years ago.

Yellowfin arrest

Yellowfin arrest

Was policing something you always wanted to go into?

My family is from a policing background. My uncle was a police officer in Hong Kong and my dad is a prison officer in Hong Kong. It’s really in the family. I wish I’d joined a bit earlier. I really enjoyed my University time but I always wanted to join.

When you first started, what was your ambition?

It was a choice between working for Hong Kong police or here. I went to school here. I also went to London a lot. I was interested in what the police get involved in.

I think as a police officer you get to see a lot that people in general don’t see. The key thing for me was for me was to get into the community.

With my Chinese background I wanted to use my language, so when I was in the Met I was in Chinatown really getting involved with the public there. Speaking their language and trying to help them as I feel they’re somewhat under-reported so luckily I had that opportunity.

All sorts of things including organised crime, trafficking, to immigration and helping vulnerable people.

I also worked in Parliament, and with with ethnic communities in the capital so with my background I want to bring that into Humberside Police. I think I’m the only Chinese officer in Humberside Police which is great.

There is a Chinese community here so I’ve been helping in that community. I just want to spread my skills and see what I can do here.

How have those skills transferred? Have you been able to make that difference?

I’ve already dealt with a Chinese victim coming into Clough Road police station already. Previously we had to go through a language line, or an officer might not have had the language or knowledge of a culture.

I was on duty at the time so the officer knew I could speak Cantonese. So I was able to speak to the victim. They were initially a bit shocked that I could speak the language, but I was able to help and quite quickly they really engage. We’re learning a bit more about their problems.

I think it helps boost confidence that if the police have the skill and the people, and they are used, it’s quite appreciated.

You’ve also brought another skillset with you. You did a lot of work with motorbike enabled crime in the Met. Now you’re heading up the Operation Yellowfin team in Humberside. Can you explain your approach?

Two years ago in Westminster we had a really big problem. I was in charge of Oxford Street and Regent Street and we were seeing about 18 robberies a day in Oxford Circus.

For me it was a reputational risk for the force and also for the UK because when a tourist coming to London sees motorbikes being ridden on pavements and people committing robberies it doesn’t seems like a safe place to be.

We had a dedicated team targeting unknown criminals, we had funding for DNA spray, for traffic officers. It was a year-long operation to deal with a really big problem.

The results there have been really good. We reduced robberies by about 60-70% in Westminster alone. It reduced robberies to about one a week which is a huge difference.

In Humberside we have scooters being stolen because they’re easy targets and you have young kids riding on mopeds who take a lot of risks because they’re still really young.

They sometimes can be from less privileged backgrounds so sometimes feel forced into crime. We do have a lot of engagement within communities talking about such crime and actively helping people.

I’ve been able to transfer that from the work I did in the Met using the same sort of methods, and also just a bit of ‘old school’ policing really.

We have very energised officers at Humberside Police who work with our intelligence unit, make sure we deploy officers to the right place at the right time with lots of resources. So the force are really supportive of that idea and the results speak for themselves.

We reduced motorbike related crime by about 49% in the first month of our high profile work and a further 15-16% in other offences. To do that we have a really good team making sure our ‘top’ criminals are arrested.

When they do we make sure evidence is there, and we give them the ‘gold standard’ treatment so we can charge them.

There has been a lot of high profile Operation Yellowfin work being done. What results are you getting?

In our first month alone of high profile work in north and west Hull from the end of April to the beginning of June we made 28 arrests – that’s about one per day. We also brought 25 charges in total, 3 youths were sent to a young offenders’ institution, and one to secure accommodation out of force area.

These were individuals who we pinpointed as some of the main offenders for motorbike crime across the city. The majority are under 18-years-old.

People think because you’re a young person you don’t get imprisoned. If you keep committing crime we will put you in prison. And that’s making a huge impact. Some of the main ones are now out of the game.

The communities are feeling that as well. It’s really refreshing to hear them saying they support us, and ‘thanks goodness that we’re doing this’. It’s lovely. We’ve also seen an increase in calls about Yellowfin. That’s the confidence we’re getting from people.

Because of this we’re able to build a much better picture. We know who they are, where they are, and we will be targeting them.

A lot of our work we’ve posted online because residents had shared their concerns with us about motorbike crime in person and through Humber Talking, so we publish our results to give that reassurance that what we’re doing is working.

Over the same time period we posted over four dozen tweets and facebook posts. That’s a lot of work!

We conducted a warrant in Hull the other day which gave us a lot of intelligence about where some of the stolen bikes could be going. That’s very important to the work we do.

We also made three arrests that morning which is another great result!

Will Operation Yellowfin continue?

Most definitely. The team have already got the backing from the force and we are extending this initial period of Yellowfin up to the end of September. Plans are in place to widen the net much further and continue our high intensity and high profile work to all over the region, south bank and north bank.

We have the support of the motorbike community, businesses and petrol stations. Spreading the word about Yellowfin at events such as the annual Barton Bike Night this weekend is very important.

Some people still think that calling us about Yellowfin is wasting our time… I always say if you don’t call us we don’t know. We might be just around the corner and can act on it there and then. We are thankfully getting more calls. There’s nothing wrong with more information.

When you arrest younger people through Yellowfin there has been some comments made that they get let out only to commit the same crimes a couple of days later. What would you say to that?

A lot of time we arrest people ‘on suspicion’ of an offence. We do need a lot of evidence to charge so I always want the public to come forward as witnesses to give us statements.

We can also get information from CCTV, and don’t forget a lot of the things these individuals do is quite organised and the more times we arrest someone, the more information we can get about them.

We can’t charge everyone we arrest. But we do disturb them, disrupt them, attend home addresses, speak with parents, and make searches.

We’re arresting the right people and we’ve recovered a lot of bikes that have been stolen.

Persisting in making arrests does result in charges. But we can only give people so many chances. If they persist to offend then we will charge them. Most of the time they won’t reoffend as prison isn’t a nice place to be.

We don’t want to be going into someone’s house at all hours and arresting a young person. There are much better options out there, and we can help.

Why would you want to risk riding a motorbike around at 30-40mph? Sometimes with no helmets. It’s dangerous for them and for other people.

For me it’s all about prevention and education. Hopefully we can create that atmosphere now where people are seeing us much more and we can help the community a little bit.