POLICE drafted in specialist sniffer dogs to seize weapons and drugs during a crime crackdown.

Almost 200 drivers were checked, with more than 50 offences detected and three vehicles taken off the road.

The expert dogs - which can sniff out drugs, weapons and money -scoured dozens of vehicles in the East End yesterday.

The operation uncovered drugs offences, drivers carrying offensive weapons inside vehicles, driving without insurance and without a licence.

A 49-year-old man was arrested for alleged weapons offences after being stopped in Duke Street.

Meanwhile, a 21-year-old man was reported to the procurator fiscal for alleged drugs offences.

The roadblocks in the East End were part of ­Operation Relay - a city-wide anti-crime initiative launched last month.

Superintendent Thom McLoughlin was joined by area commander Chief ­Inspector David Pettigrew at the checkpoint.

Mr McLoughlin stressed the importance of a visible police presence.

He said: "People will see an increase in the number of police officers on the streets and at transport hubs throughout Operation Relay.

"Operation Relay is a sustained attack on criminality.

"It is about early intervention, targeting and disrupting criminal activities and taking away any crime assets using legislation.

"Criminals will be targeted right across the division."

During the multi-agency check, more than 3000 vehicles were scanned by the DVLA mobile cameras.

Defect notices were also issued to taxi drivers, with a further 17 people being reported for a variety of driving offences.

Sergeant Chris Hoggans, one of the officers leading yesterday's operation, said: "We have been targeting those involved with metal theft, drugs offences, bogus callers. We've also been looking at those committing motoring offences.

"By working together with all our partner agencies, we can really maximise our ability to keep people safe."

Mr Hoggans revealed almost 50 taxis were also stopped during yesterday's crackdown.

Officers were also drawing on intelligence from the local community to help them target criminals.

In a side road off Duke Street, Vehicle Operator Services Agency officers checked vehicles for mechanical faults, such as worn brakes and bald tyres.

Police worked with a host of partners, including British Transport Police, HMRC, VOSA, the DVLA and Motor Insurance Bureau, to make the operation a success.

Officers checked cars to make sure they were taxed, insured and roadworthy.

Sergeant Arlene Wilson, from British Transport Police, praised the crime-busting initiative.

She said: "British Transport Police is involved in initiatives like Operation Relay, as they are a successful tactic in targeting and disrupting those who indulge in criminality.

"They also serving to reassure the law-abiding public that agencies can work together to keep communities safe."

The Evening Times has exclusive access to Operation Relay, which runs until May 31.

As well as stamping out violence and disrupting organised crime, officers want to make communities safer.

Reassuring the public, with high-visibility patrols, has been a key part of the initiative.

Extra resources will be drafted in and every available officer will be involved in the operation.

Despite only being half way through the two-month operation, Mr McLoughlin has already hailed relay as a "huge success".

He said the project, which has taken months to plan, is about "early intervention" to prevent crime rather than reacting after an incident.

Mr McLoughlin added: "We will be focusing on long-term solutions by having the right people, in the right place, at the right time."