Specialist rural crime taskforce launched in Thames Valley

Thames Valley Police has launched a specialist rural crime taskforce to help protect farmers across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

The police force said it had launched the taskforce to make the Thames Valley "a hostile place for those who commit rural crimes".

The unit consists of a team of dedicated officers, as well as intelligence support, who will work with partners, drone units, and the Joint Operations Unit.

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 livestock and the theft of vital machinery, they cause distress and unnecessary hardship for farmers who rely on their land and machinery for their livelihoods.

Rural Crime Taskforce Inspector, Stuart Hutchings said the force will not tolerate rural crime: “The trust and confidence of our rural communities is extremely important to us.

“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.”

Over £400,000 worth of trailers, caravans and other equipment have already been recovered by the team, the force explained.

They have been working with the Forensic Investigation Unit to address rises in thefts of GPS systems within tractor satellite navigation systems.

This means the 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.

Other areas have also seen the benefit of the taskforce, with the team supporting investigations into rural issues such as thefts and hare coursing.

The work has included working with the Economic Crime Unit to look into the proceeds of crime, with operations having taken place into money laundering.

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire NFU chair, Alex Nelms said the taskforce was 'welcome news' for the region's farmers and growers.

"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.”

Source: Farming UK