Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has welcomed four new members to the Force's Rural Crime Team as she celebrated its "outstanding success".
The four PCSOs have joined the team - known as Op Sentinel Rural - which was created following the Commissioner's promise in her Police and Crime Plan to create a fairer deal on policing for those who live in the country. In just six months, the team has chalked up an impressive list of successful operations including, but not limited to:-
* Over 900 speed checks
* 39 vehicles seized
* 87 traffic offences detected
* 26 speeding offences
* 9 arrests
* 4 found fly tipping without a waste carrier's licence
* 83 crime intelligence submissions
* 16 verbal warnings
* 4 Stop and Search interventions
* 1 street caution for cannabis
* 16 verbal warnings
"This unit has proved its worth beyond all reasonable doubt and I'm absolutely delighted to welcome four experienced PCSOs to expand it still further and build links in person with Bedfordshire's country communities," said Commissioner Holloway.
"I'm told by farmers who've experienced years of feeling ignored by police of their enormous gratitude to the team. For example, there are now daily patrols to visit those who have faced the nuisance and intimidation of fly-tipping and crop destruction through mopeds and quad bikes, particularly in South West Bedfordshire.
"This is a county-wide effort though and the team are involved in everything from preventing hare-coursing on which hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of bets are placed, providing equality in policing of both hunt saboteurs and those who would break the law governing hunts and dealing with wildlife crimes, such as the disturbance of badger setts, as one example. When you see so many badgers by the roadside in our county, you know many have, in fact, been hunted, killed and placed there to cover this up as I know well, living in the Bedfordshire countryside myself," said the PCC.
PCSOs Giovanna Traetto, Lynne Wells, Ben Oxley and Anthony Seamarks are the latest members of the country crime busters in the specialist team which will have grown, by September, to a Sergeant, five Police Constables and four PCSOs under the supervision of a Chief Inspector and Superintendent.
"This is, without a doubt, the largest dedicated Rural Team in the Eastern Region," said T/Chief Insp. Mark Farrant.
The Rural Crime Team concentrates on the whole range of key rural crimes such as Traveller issues, fly tipping, hare-coursing, agricultural thefts and those targeting country churches and heritage buildings, fly-grazing, sheep-worrying and all wildlife crimes and is working alongside partner forces such as Cambridgeshire and Thames Valley Police in joint operations involving Automatic Number Plate Recognition.
"As PCSOs, we've only been in the job for three weeks but people in rural communities had felt so disenfranchised that they're incredibly appreciative of everything we do when they see us out and about, visiting farms and rural neighbourhoods. The gratitude and support is absolutely amazing," said PCSO Lynne Wells.
"We're here to make a difference and by being seen we're doing something to reassure rural communities that their problems are our priorities," said her college, PCSO Ben Oxley.
PCSO Giovanna Traetto, said: "I used to work in Ampthill before the station there closed and it's been really great to use all my contacts and experience of country crimes and those who I know living in remote rural locations again through this unit."
"Before I became PCC there was no dedicated rural unit at all. We started with one Rural Crime Liaison Officer, working with the network I asked the National Farmers Union to set up to help police. A business case was then made for a full Rural Crime Team and Op Sentinel Rural is the result. The PCSOs will be a huge help, especially in attending meetings with both parish councils and farmers. They're so appreciative of the uplift in support from Bedfordshire Police that it's become a real two-way street, with one of their leaders in the county even training as a Special Constable!" said Commissioner Holloway.
The Rural Crime Team can be contacted by email - opsentinel.rural@Bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk. There is also a WhatsApp group that is open for members of the rural community to join, for more information please contact the team.