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7 October, 2019

Week of Action on Rural Crime

The National Rural Crime Network is supporting the Rural Crime Week of Action being organised by police forces across the country.

The aim of the week is to put the work being done to identify and tackle rural and wildlife crime in the spotlight and encourage more support for the efforts to ensure communities across rural Britain are safe and feel safe.

Julia Mulligan, Chair of the National Rural Crime Network, said:

“Rural communities are too often ignored by those in positions of power because they’re hidden from view. I hope this Week of Action allows us to shine a light on the issues they face with crime and anti-social behaviour challenges just like any other part of the country, but also being more vulnerable because of their isolation and distance from support services of all kinds.

“Despite the passionate and professional police officers who serve communities day-in, day-out, we need government and all national organisations to better understand, represent and stand up for the 10.3 million people who live in rural areas.”

Throughout the week, officers from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce will work alongside the force’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams, and other specialist resources. They will also be joined by volunteers from Mobile Rural Watch schemes, and staff from partnership agencies.

The week-long campaign, which is co-ordinated by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, runs from 6 to 13 October 2019, and follows the success of a ‘rural crime day of action’ in 2018.

The week of action got underway with a major police operation spanning the north of England on Sunday 6 October, when hundreds of officers and volunteers took part in Operation Checkpoint, the largest operation of its kind in the country.

The forces involved in Checkpoint share intelligence and information and patrol across force boundaries to target criminals, disrupting their use of the road network in rural areas and bringing anyone found breaking the law to justice.

Police tactics included the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to locate vehicles suspected of being connected to crime, as well as targeting vehicles seen in suspicious circumstances.

Sunday 6 October also saw North Yorkshire Police mark National Badger Day 2019, with the publication of a newsletter and social media activity to raise awareness of badger persecution. Inspector Kevin Kelly, from North Yorkshire Police, is National Chair of the Badger Persecution Priority Delivery Group, part of the UK’s National Wildlife Crime Unit.

Throughout the week, officers will be patrolling and conducting proactive operations in rural North Yorkshire, including:

  • Operation Galileo
    An operation to disrupt illegal poaching, such as hare coursing. There is typically an increase in poaching offences in October, after crops have been harvested, and fields are left empty and open. Officers work closely with other forces, identifying and dealing with suspect vehicles previously linked to poaching.
  • Operation Dusk
    A proactive operation in the Selby district, targeting criminals who travel into rural areas of North Yorkshire from neighbouring regions.
  • Operation Harvester
    Under this operation, hundreds of volunteers operate Mobile Rural Watches across the North Yorkshire countryside. Volunteers use their own vehicles, and are equipped with police radios so they can communicate with officers. By drawing on the expert local knowledge of the volunteers, any suspicious activity or vehicles can be checked out in real time.

In addition, police will be working alongside partner agencies such as Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust to keep North Yorkshire’s countryside and wildlife protected.

Inspector Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said:

“The NPCC’s Wildlife and Rural Crime Week of Action is a good opportunity to highlight the impact of rural crime on our communities, and the action that we are taking to tackle it.

“We know all too well the effect that crime can have on the livelihoods and wellbeing of rural residents, which is why it remains a top priority for us.

“Our activities this week are a reflection of the hard work of officers, staff and volunteers that goes on day-in, day-out across North Yorkshire. However, I hope the clear message and focus of this week of action will send out a clear message that criminals are not welcome in our rural communities.”

North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce is the largest unit dedicated to tackling rural crime in England. The Taskforce works closely with local groups and individuals to identify and solve issues of concern to rural communities. They gather information and intelligence about those who target or commit offences in rural areas, take part in proactive operations to disrupt offenders, and provide a visible presence in rural villages and towns and villages. Taskforce PCs and PCSOs also have expertise in providing bespoke advice on how to protect yourself, your farm or household, and your property and livestock.

In its most recent inspection of North Yorkshire Police published in September 2019, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that:

“Tackling rural crime was given high priority, following a consultation that highlighted public concern. This improved the response to crime and incidents for rural communities… By offering crime prevention advice and developing new links through social media and the Rural Taskforce, North Yorkshire Police has successfully re-engaged the rural community.”