Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye, recently hosted a joint event with Chief Constable Garry Forsyth alongside the National Farmers Union (NFU) to discuss rural crime.
The event was also attended by the Bedfordshire Police dedicated Rural Crime team and officer from the Community Policing team.
The purpose of the meeting was for the group to join forces by looking at planning and tactics to fight rural crime in Bedfordshire.
Mr Akinbusoye said: “This event gives us the opportunity to tap into the farming community’s network and local knowledge, as well as key information sharing between Beds Police and the farming communities.
“As a result of this meeting, we are now setting up a Rural Watch group so that we can ensure even better crime reporting.
“These meetings are crucial for improving performance and delivery of police service in our rural areas and we now have action plans in place for next year”.
Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Garry Forsyth is providing the Rural Crime Team with a new extra off-road vehicle and thermal imaging equipment to help with hare coursing patrols.
Rural Crime Team Sergeant Christopher Pollard said: “It was beneficial for us to meet with famers and rural communities to hear constructive feedback.
“Some farmers have really suffered from farm equipment thefts and the scourge of hare coursing, causing them distress and a large financial loss. I was able to share details of our dedicated Rural Crime team and will strive to call on the victims to give reassurance and crime prevention advice.
“The new seven-force (7F) Community Protection Notice warning was also discussed – an initiative which allows the police forces in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk to prosecute offenders who breach the orders issued by any of the counties, which is a big step forward in deterring hare coursing offences.
It is believed as much as 50 per cent of hare coursing cases go unreported. Sergeant Pollard encouraged farmers to record hare coursing incidents, to allow police to better understand the issue.
Oliver Rubinstein, County Advisor for the NFU, said: “Rural crime continues to be a significant issue for farmers across Bedfordshire, with hare coursing, theft, assaults and intimidation occurring on a weekly basis. Aside from the financial cost, this also has a considerable impact on the mental health of the farming community. Therefore, we welcomed the opportunity to discuss how we can best tackle rural crime with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Chief Constable and Rural Crime Team.
“The NFU will continue to work closely with the rural crime team and other partners at all levels, to support the work of the police and stamp out rural crime.”
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