£100k of stolen property recovered since introduction of Rural Crime Team
Since their launch in September 2023, Cumbria’s dedicated Rural Crime Team have been keeping our rural communities safe by reducing and preventing crime, engaging with our rural communities and recovering stolen property.
Between 19.09.23 and 31.01.24 the Rural Crime Team have recovered £100,000 worth of stolen property and the county has seen a reduction in Plant and Machinery Theft by 10% in comparison to the same time period in 2022/23. In 2023, Cumbria saw a 15% reduction in quad bike thefts, a 10% reduction in high value machinery thefts, and over a 6% reduction in sheep theft compared to 2022. The team has seized six vehicles for use in crime and searched 18 premises, including six warrants. They have engaged with their local communities through dedicated Whatsapp groups hosting 978 contacts to share local information. The Team also visit those who have been victims of rural crime to offer crime prevention advice to reduce the risk of being re-victimised – since September 2023, the team have carried out 90 premises visits.
The Team was introduced to provide a dedicated, highly trained group of officers to help prevent and reduce rural crime in the county and provide support to Officers across the Constabulary dealing with rural crime. The Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (OPFCC) and the Constabulary joint funded the Rural Crime Team, with the OPFCC providing funding for the two specialist roles of a Rural Crime Technical Advisor and a Rural Crime Co-ordinator. The OPFCC also funds target hardening equipment such as SelectaDNA and training for Officers, Special Constables and PCSOs to ensure that anyone attending a crime understands not only the crime type but recognises the impact the crime has had on the resident. To encourage best practice and to ensure Cumbria residents are provided with the best service possible, the OPFCC also funded a Rural Crime Conference.
Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Mike Johnson, said: “I’ve been out with the Rural Crime Team on several operations since their launch and I am truly impressed with the team’s dedication to their roles and how they deal with crimes across such a large rural terrain.
“As Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, part of my role is to listen to the public’s concerns and our rural communities have been requesting dedicated rural officers so I, alongside the Constabulary, placed resources into a Rural Crime Team.
“In the last five months, the Team have achieved a great deal and I’m sure the public will appreciate all their hard work.
“However, we do need the public, especially those in rural communities, to continue to report into 101 or 999 in an emergency.
“Without the reporting and concern raising from our residents, we wouldn’t have had such a clear indication of where we need to place our resources in the county.
“Our residents know their area better than anyone. I hope that by encouraging our communities to report and highlight suspicious activity, we can prevent crime as well as respond reactively after a crime has taken place.
“Together we can make Cumbria an even safer place to live, work and visit.”
Rural Crime Team Sergeant, Amanda McKirdy, said: “As a team we have already been proactive in targeting those who think Cumbria is a soft target for rural crime, by seizing vehicles, searching properties and conducting warrants.
“This has seen us work with partner agencies such as the RSPCA and Environment Agency as well as colleagues from surrounding forces targeting those involved in wildlife and rural crime offences.
“As a predominantly rural force, we are determined create a hostile environment for criminals and to safeguard local communities.
“A lot of our work has also been crime prevention, visiting those who have been victims before on how they can take steps to protect themselves and encourage reporting of incidents as we know rural crime is under reported and encourage our communities to be vigilant and reporting crimes and any suspicious activity.
“We have also been working hard to build relationships with our communities, with over 970 people signed up to ten WhatsApp Groups to share information.”