Thames Valley Police has launched its Rural Crime Taskforce to make the Thames Valley a hostile place for those who commit rural crimes.
The Taskforce consists of a team of dedicated officers, as well as intelligence support, who will work tirelessly with our partners, drone units, and the Joint Operations Unit with Hampshire to tackle serious and organised rural crime.
What is rural crime?
Rural crimes are offences that relate to farms, agriculture, wildlife, the environment and heritage sites where they are targeted due to their isolation or rural location. Spanning across harm to animals and the theft of vital machinery, rural crime causes distress, misery and unnecessary hardship for farmers who rely on their land and machinery for their livelihoods.
How does rural crime impact the Thames Valley?
The Taskforce is successfully working to support rural communities and tackle crime. Over £400,000 worth of trailers, caravans and other equipment have been recovered by the team. They have been proactively working with the Forensic Investigation Unit to address rises in thefts of GPS systems within tractor satellite navigation systems. This means the Forensic Investigation Unit is able to attend these incidents when they have taken place, helping the rural communities recover from the impact these offences which can have severe consequences on the livelihoods of those affected. Local policing areas across the Thames Valley have also seen the benefit of the Taskforce, with the team supporting investigations into rural issues such as thefts and hare coursing.
There is also proactive work led by the Taskforce, which has included working with the Economic Crime Unit to look into the proceeds of crime. Operations have taken place into money laundering, showing how rural crime can often link into organised crime and the key role the Taskforce will play in supporting wider police operations.
Rural Crime Taskforce Inspector, Stuart Hutchings said: “The trust and confidence of our rural communities is extremely important to us and that is why we are grateful to the Police and Crime Commissioner for the funding which has enabled us to develop a Rural Crime Taskforce.
“The Taskforce will make the Thames Valley a hostile place for anyone looking to commit rural crime. We now have a team of dedicated officers committed to making our rural communities safer as well as staff waiting to take your call who are trained in the complexities of rural crime and its impacts. We will not tolerate rural crime.”
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire NFU chair Alex Nelms said: “The commitment by Thames Valley Police to introduce and resource a Rural Crime Taskforce really is welcome news to farmers and growers across our three counties. For a long time now, we have been calling for greater resources that would enable the force to be better placed to tackle specific types of rural crime, given the challenges of working over such a broad area. This taskforce will also undoubtedly boost the amount of intelligence gathered by Thames Valley Police that it will be able to share with neighbouring forces, where criminals are operating across borders.”
Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said: “I am delighted to see the Rural Crime Taskforce come to fruition after months of careful planning.
“The Taskforce will support communities across the whole of our region to create a hostile environment to commit crime.
“As well as collaborating with partner agencies, the Taskforce will also work alongside the Joint Operations Unit in Hampshire to tackle serious and organised rural crime.
“Today’s launch highlights how I am determined to bear down on those who commit crime in all parts of the Thames Valley as part of my Police and Criminal Justice Plan.
“If you believe a rural crime is being committed in your community, please contact Thames Valley Police by using their online reporting form.”
If a crime is happening or someone is in danger, call 999.
If you have a hearing or speech impairment, use our textphone service 18000 or text us on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergency SMS service.
If you think a rural crime is being committed then contact us by reporting a crime online. We’d rather you contacted us and we investigate, than not hear from you.
You can also report wildlife crime anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.
Further information on rural crime and prevention advice can be found on our website.