Posted on 24th October 2019

Cheshire Police held a week of action to protect our communities from rural and wildlife crime.

The week, driven nationally by the National Police Chief’s Councils (NPCC) and ran from 6 - 13 October, saw Cheshire’s new dedicated rural crime team taking part in a number of initiatives which tackled key issues that prove a real blight to the rural community.

As national lead for rural and wildlife crime, Chief Constable Darren Martland is striving to keep rural and wildlife crime top of the agenda for the force. This week of action is the latest in the many initiatives to protect our rural communities from crime.

Monday night saw the team launch ‘Operation Crossbow’ with members of the Knutsford and Northwich rural and farming communities joining officers on the ground as extra eyes and ears.

Each member of the public involved was issued with a radio that linked them directly to the patrols, and they were able to contact officers about anything suspicious.

The operation was well received within the rural community with many remarking on how much they enjoyed the opportunity to support officers in making Cheshire safer.

Tuesday saw the team deployed with the Enforcement Officers from Cheshire East to target fly tipping and those operating without a waste carriers licence. Operation East, as it was code named, was centred around the rural areas of Nantwich stretching down to the border with West Mercia.

Fly tipping costs land owners and councils millions of pounds per year and can pollute the waterways and fields that our food comes from. Many vans were stopped and legitimate carriers were pleased that officers were setting out to catch those that jeopardise their businesses and cause a blight in the countryside.

Wednesday evening saw more than 20 police vehicles and many more staff come together from Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire. The joint operation, Operation Sentry, saw the three police services soften their shared borders in order to tackle rural and wildlife crime. The officers worked off a shared channel on their radios meaning that the officers from the three counties were able to support each other at stop checks.

On Friday, team members joined North Wales’ Rural Crime Team, on a joint operation on the border, again, ensuring that the sharing of intelligence and the targeting of criminals was done collaboratively.

Officers visited farms along the border and offered advice on security. The operation provided the opportunity for the two teams to show a united stance against those who may try to target our rural communities.

On Saturday, the Rural Crime Team headed into the White Peak area of the Peak District National park to tackle those involved in anti-social use of off road vehicles on the green lanes and trails through the area. They were joined by two officers on off-road police motorbikes, the team were out talking to riders, encouraging them to use trails lawfully and responsibly.

To round the week of action off, the team headed out on the River Dee, working with the council’s River Patrol, the Environment Agency and the Volunteer Bailiff Service of The Angling Trust to look at crime in and around the river - stretching from our border with Wales into the heart of Chester.

The rivers can be host to a number of criminal and anti-social activities and by policing the hotspots we can provide reassurance to those using the rivers, making them feel safe.

Chief Inspector Simon Meegan, the force’s rural crime lead, said:

“The week of action was a really positive way to demonstrate the kind of work that the Rural Crime Team can achieve by being dedicated to tackling rural and wildlife crime.

“We want our rural communities to have the confidence that we are working hard to protect them. We’re not just here for our towns and cities, protecting people from rural and wildlife crime is also extremely important to us and the week of action allowed the team to showcase the work they can do.

“Working with our partners and neighbouring forces in joint operations and sharing of intelligence is a fantastic way of ensuring that criminals don’t take advantage of our rural areas by travelling through counties to commit crime.

“Rural crime can have an impact on people’s livelihoods and the dedicated rural crime team will take action on those who think they can exploit our rural communities. The team will continue to work with our rural communities to protect them from crime.”

David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, said:

“Tackling crime and building confidence in the police in rural areas is one of my top priorities.

“I know from meeting many residents in our rural communities that the type of crimes committed in rural areas not only impacts them personally but can also have significant effects on their livelihoods.

“Residents in rural areas also often feel isolated from the police, especially in areas where police resources may be some distance away.

“I am pleased to see that Cheshire Constabulary has set-up a dedicated rural crime team to serve in our rural communities and it’s fantastic to see the positive impact the new team is already having on making our isolated areas safer.”

Cheshire has a team of officers, PCSOs and volunteers dedicated to tackling rural and wildlife crime. The team is made up of a Sergeant, a Detective Constable, six police officers, three PCSOs and volunteers. It is also being supported by members of the Special Constabulary.

They provide the force a specialist capability in investigating rural and wildlife crime, with a particular focus on offences that relate to farms and agriculture, wildlife, the environment, heritage sites and public protection issues within rural communities.

The team also focus on identifying domestic abuse and hidden harm offences, such as modern slavery in the rural community.

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