Criminals who target country and farming areas of Derbyshire will shortly find themselves up against a 27-strong Rural Crime Unit.
This development follows Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa’s call for the force to consider ways in which the service provided to rural communities could be strengthened.
Hardyal Dhindsa said: “This is a very good news for our rural communities and farmers who have told me of the serious effects of high value crime and how devastating it can be to their businesses.”
The newly configured rural crime team is to be launched in the Spring.
Mr Dhinsa said: “It will enable a more co-ordinated approach that engages with those who live and work in rural communities and numerous partner agencies and experts.
“Loosely following the experiences of the successful North Wales Rural Crime Unit, it will focus not just on wildlife crime but also will be targeting the wider problems of rural crime and the additional issues associated with environmental and heritage crimes.”
After an assessment of crime figures over the past two years with a view to providing greater support to Derbyshire’s rural communities, a paper recommending a Rural Crime Unit was submitted to the Strategic Governance Board through the Chief Constable’s Office and supported by the PCC.
The paper included research by the force’s Assistant Chief Constable Bill McWilliam and a comparison with North Wales Rural Crime Unit which deals with similar crime problems to those in Derbyshire.
Mr Dhindsa said: “I am particularly pleased about this development as it reflects concerns about rural crime that local residents and farmers have told me about during my visits to their communities.”
His latest ‘walkabout’ was on Sunday, December 4, when he attended the Bakewell Farmers’ Market together with ACC McWilliam to talk to farmers and visitors.
The PCC and Assistant Chief Constable also joined Bagshaw auctioneer Alastair Sneddon and County Chairman of Derbyshire’s National Farmers Union, Angela Sargent, to discuss community safety and concerns of residents and businesses in the farming community.
Regular meetings are now to be arranged to discuss trends in crime and what partnership action is needed to help the rural communities.
Mr Dhindsa added: “It is so important to listen to what they say, hear about the issues that matter to them and act upon them.”
The new model for the rural crime team will involve them in a wider range of duties including working to improve crime prevention and security; targeting thefts from rural areas of plant and farm machinery, fuel, scrap metal and vehicles; and theft of livestock.
Officers will also focus on a wide range of offences like rural arson, fly tipping and off roading. They will have far-reaching links ranging from Safer Neighbourhood teams, crime teams in surrounding forces such as Staffordshire, Cheshire and Lincolnshire, and rural crime operations in Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire.
Their presence will also be required at partnership and community events such as farmers’ markets.