Thames Valley Police launches Rural Crime Taskforce
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The taskforce consists of a team of dedicated officers, as well as intelligence support, who will work tirelessly with police partners, drone units, and the Joint Operations Unit with Hampshire to tackle serious and organised 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.
The taskforce has worked 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.
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.”
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.
You can also report wildlife crime anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.