More than 1,000 people were caught committing phone-related driving offences in one year, according to Northumbria Police.

The figure - 1,163 between January 2023, and January 2024 - comes as a nationwide operation to combat the dangerous habit of using mobile phones behind the wheel is launched.

Lead by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), the intensive three-week operation began on Monday with targeted patrols and vehicle stops.

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Northumbria Police's Sergeant Glen Robson said: "Mobile phones have become an essential part of almost all of our lives, but that is no excuse for using them behind the wheel.

"Drivers need to give the road ahead their full attention, and distractions from devices undermine their safety as well as the safety of all other road users."

He warned that while hands-free devices are commonly seen as a safe alternative, they too can be equally hazardous.

Drivers are up to four times more likely to crash when using either a mobile phone or a hands-free device, according to recent research.

First-time offenders risk a £200 fine and six points on their licence, while repeat offenders could face a ban and hefty fine up to £1,000.

Those who have passed their test in the last two years could lose their licence.