Derbyshire remains one of the safest areas in the country but our vast natural assets will always attract criminal activity. Preserving our Peak District and its abundant wildlife and heritage is a policing priority but enforcement alone is not the answer and nor can the police manage the threat singlehandedly.
This month I attended a meeting at the Peak District National Park Authority in Bakewell to discuss how we might tackle problems together in the future. A lot of organisations, including the National Park Authority, are already working hard to combat a whole raft of crimes but we need to be doing more to coordinate our efforts to have any lasting impact.
From damage to ancient monuments and the persecution of birds of prey such as the peregrine falcon through to deer poaching, agricultural crime and illegal off-road vehicles, there are many faces to wildlife and rural crime. Policing these issues is resource-intensive and requires specialist knowledge and experience so it makes sense to draw on the variety of expertise at our fingertips. to ensure any action we take has a positive impact.
One of our first jobs is to improve the way we communicate. By releasing coordinated, timely information, we can often prevent people from becoming victims or alert people to suspicious activity which will help us to apprehend suspects. We are also considering how to make our social media channels get information out quicker and reach more people.
We also need to do more to encourage people to report crime. Many rural business owners and farmers do not report incidents they consider as minor yet without this information we can’t build up an intelligence picture or assess the true scale of the problems.
Our Derbyshire Dales Local Policing Unit has Safer Neighbourhood Teams across Ashbourne, Matlock and Bakewell, as well as the specialist rural crime team, which are already working closely with the National Park, but we will look to develop this further and incorporate those organisations which are not yet involved.
It’s early days but there’s a strong desire by all agencies, and of course our FarmWatch
scheme, to improve our resilience. Together we can do this more effectively.