Fully committed to tackling rural crime in the Thames Valley

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Thames Valley Police is furthering its commitment to tackling rural crime and making the area a hostile place for countryside offenders.

The first rural crime strategy has been produced, which sets out the plan for reducing offending, improving co-operation and bringing offenders to justice up to 2026.

Assistant Chief Constable Christian Bunt, Strategic Lead for Rural Crime, said: “Tackling rural crime is a priority for Thames Valley Police.

“The Thames Valley is blessed with natural beauty, historic landscapes and vibrant rural communities; it is a vital part of the economy and we are committed to protecting these assets for the benefit of us all.

“We will be focused on working with our partners and communities to create a hostile environment for those who commit rural crime.

“For those who do commit rural crime, we will do all we can bring them to justice.

“Our local neighbourhood policing teams and Rural Crime Taskforce will focus on the most prevalent threats and emerging issues that have the greatest impact on our rural communities.”

We will focus on increasing our ability to identify rural crime, which is defined as involving agriculture, the environmental, heritage and wildlife, to better tackle criminality and improving our response to communities impacted.

We will increase the confidence our rural communities have in the force by building meaningful links transparency and accountability

We will proactively target those who are suspected of committing serious rural organised acquisitive crime through disruption and targeted activity.

We will work collectively in the force and with partners to make a sustained improvement for rural crime.

Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said: “The impact of rural crime can be devastating and can leave our most isolated communities feeling particularly vulnerable.

“The publication of the first Rural Crime Strategy demonstrates Thames Valley Police’s commitment to tackling it and building the trust and confidence of residents across our rural areas.

“Thames Valley Police is already making great strides in bearing down on individuals and organised groups who are committing rural crime.

“I was pleased to provide critical funding to develop the Rural Crime Taskforce and their results to date show the benefit of a dedicated and proactive policing response.

“The taskforce is working hard to bring offenders to justice as well as promoting prevention and their close collaboration with rural communities and organisations such as the National Farmers Union is making a real difference to the safety and security of farms, rural industries and our most isolated communities.”

A variety of tactics will be used to carry out strategic objectives around rural crime.

The Rural Crime Taskforce has been making the Thames Valley a hostile area for offenders since its launch around two years ago, with more than £4 million-worth of property seized in that time.

To tackle criminality and improve understanding of rural crime, the force will monitor crime trends, train contact management staff, work with local policing areas and intelligence teams and increase the number of wildlife crime-trained officers.

They will also use Whatsapp groups to engage with communities as well as support weeks of action, use social media and develop rural crime calendars.

Among the ways they will disrupt offenders include working with neighbouring police forces, use drones and automated number plate recognition cameras and continue to tackle hare coursing through Op Galileo.

Lastly, the force will develop its relationship with partners such as the National Farmers’ Union, Environment Agency, local authorities and others to improve collaboration, as well as continuing regular rural crime partnership board meetings and utilise special constables.

(L-R) Thames Valley Police Rural Crime Taskforce lead, Inspector Stuart Hutchings, CLA member and landowner Robert Ruck-Keene, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber, Rural Crime Partnership chair David Orwood, Thames Valley Police rural crime lead, Superintendent Lewis Prescott-Mayling and agriculture and construction specialist Dave Clayton