A dedicated team of officers will be throwing the spotlight on countryside crime to help protect rural communities across Derbyshire.
Launched earlier today (Monday 13 March) at Bakewell Farmers’ Market, the Derbyshire Rural Crime Team will help raise awareness of the crimes that impact on the rural and farming areas of the county - helping to shut the gate on offences such as burglaries, theft of farm machinery, the stealing of fuel, and livestock rustling.
It follows a pledge by Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa to offer greater protection to rural communities and ensure the right resources are in place to tackle rural crime quickly and effectively.
Based in Matlock, the new team will be made up of police officers, members of the Special Constabulary and police volunteers and will also lean on the expertise of the force’s 27 wildlife crime specialist officers.
The team will deliver crime prevention tips to people, plan and execute operations to target criminals who carry out these offences, and take the lead on the investigation of rural crimes, giving victims a single point of contact to deal with.
As part of a new focus on rural crime, the Commissioner is also relaunching Farm Watch and Horse Watch - free schemes which warn residents and businesses when a crime or suspicious incident that is rural or equine-related occurs to help them increase their security - via the reinstated Derbyshire Alert messaging system, funded by the Commissioner. Residents can sign up to the messages at www.derbyshirealert.co.uk
Mr Dhindsa said: “I’m immensely proud of the joint work that has taken place to develop the Rural Crime Team. This is a fantastic resource for rural communities and will ensure residents and countryside businesses have access to a single, dedicated support team to address those issues that threaten their livelihoods or quality of life.
“Rural crime costs the economy millions of pounds every year, not only jeopardising business survival but undermining the confidence and feelings of safety of those who make their home in the countryside.
“It’s critical that local people know exactly who to turn to for help on crime prevention to protect their homes and businesses and most importantly that someone is available to listen to them. As I pledged during my election campaign I have reinstated Derbyshire Alert which will allow us to optimise our awareness work by warning residents of live crime threats so they can take prompt action.”
In addition to heading out among the communities of the Derbyshire Dales, the team will also be spreading the word online via the @DerbyshireRCT Twitter profile.
Inspector Dave Nash, who is leading the team, said: “There is such a wide variety of offences that directly impact rural and farming communities across our county.
“Whether it’s the theft of a quad bike, sheep rustling, damage or theft to farm machinery or breaking into outbuildings - all of them can greatly affect someone’s livelihood.
“And it’s not just crimes against people that we will be focusing on; we will also be helping to protect our wildlife, alongside our specialist wildlife crime officers.
“This includes poaching, illegal off-roading, bird persecution, destruction of nests, and badger baiting.
“We have vast rural areas in Derbyshire, particularly in the Dales, and our efforts will help to safeguard the people living there, the wildlife, and the landscape itself, so it is protected for people to enjoy.”
The rural crime team will be working with a range of partner agencies including farming unions, and will also be regular visitors to the agricultural centre in Bakewell.
NFU’s county chairman, Angela Sargent, who farms at Etwall, said: “Crime is an increasing issue for our farming community - farmers feel they are easy targets for theft, particularly, and there have been many cases in the past few years of farm vehicles, diesel and even farm animals being stolen. Farms are often isolated and with fewer police patrols outside the county’s towns and cities, they are vulnerable.
“However, NFU is building excellent relationships with Derbyshire Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner and a level of understanding of the issues farming families and other rural communities are facing, is apparent in all levels of policing. We are very pleased that Derbyshire Police is establishing a Rural Crime Team which will be able to focus on both crimes committed and in preventing crimes in Derbyshire’s rural areas. As recent convictions have shown, crime doesn’t just happen in built up areas, so a dedicated partner to help rural communities tackle crime in the countryside is a positive step forward. We look forward to working with the team.”