Deputy PFCC visits farm to see rural crime prevention in action
Cumbria’s Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (DPFCC), Mike Johnson, visited a local farm in the north of Cumbria to see the Rural Crime Team provide target-hardening defenses.
Cumbria’s Rural Crime Team was officially launched on 19 September as part of National Rural Crime Week. Throughout the week, Cumbria Constabulary successfully stopped over 120 vehicles in a week-long, proactive operation to disrupt criminality from taking place in our rural communities.
The DPFCC, Mike Johnson visited a local farm that had recently been targeted by criminals, where a quad bike had been stolen. On arrival to the scene, the Police found the quad bike hidden out of view approximately a mile from the farm and returned to the farmer, Jim Campbell. Criminals often hide stolen vehicles, such as quad bikes, close to the victim’s property to collect later. This allows them to check to see if the vehicle has a tracker on. If this is the case, the farmer is alerted as to the vehicles location and the criminals could be identified if they stole the item straight away. Hiding it nearby and allowing for a delay in time, ensures that the vehicle is not equipped with some form of tracker.
PCSO Karen Dakin and Sergeant Amanda McKirdy attended the farm with the DPFCC to provide prevention measures such as tracking equipment and security advice to reduce the risk of Mr. Campbell being re-victimised in the future. PCSO Dakin provided the farmer with a SelectaDNA marking kit to increase the chance of property being returned if it is stolen in the future. Similar to natural DNA, each SelectaDNA marker is unique and can be identified and linked to an individual owner.
A key role of the Rural Crime Team, alongside Neighbourhood Policing, is prevention. The teams can provide information and advice to rural residents on how they can best protect their property from Officers are also visiting those who have already been targeted by criminals, to provide them with information and materials, such as SelectaDNA, to reduce the chances of being targeted again in the future.
Speaking on the visit, DPFCC Mike Johnson, said: “I was pleased to be out today with the Rural Crime Team, providing target hardening advice to the local community.
“The recently launched Team consists of highly trained officers who will be supporting all Officers across the county tackle rural crime, which is one of our key priorities.
“To help tackle rural crime, the OPFCC has funded two unique posts within the team and funded rural crime training for Officers, Specials and PCSOs to expand their practical knowledge of rural crime.
“We have also funded target hardening materials such as SelectaDNA to increase the chance of stolen property being returned.
“PSCO Dakin and Sergeant McKirdy are doing some target hardening around a local farm today to help one of our local farmers, Jim, keep his property as safe as possible to deter criminals.
“We understand that many farmers and agriculture businesses in the county rely on agricultural equipment and livestock. Criminals stealing and abusing these integral parts of these businesses do affect the livelihoods of residents and place emotional, mental, and financial stress on them.
“We need to do what we can to prevent these crimes in the first place and alleviate the stress of victims.
“We need rural residents to be our eyes and ears in their community as they know their area better than anyone so if you do spot anything suspicious, please report it to 101 or 999 in an emergency.
“I would also urge any farmer who has been the victim of rural crime or feels that they need advice on how to best protect their property from becoming a target to reach out to the Rural Crime Team via their Facebook page ‘Cumbria Police Rural Crime Team’ or by email at email@example.com”
Chief Inspector Lee Skelton, Cumbria Constabulary’s Rural Crime Lead said: “The new Rural Crime Team introduced last month enables us to provide an enhanced policing service to our rural communities, which we have been able to do through increased officer numbers via Operation Uplift and specific funding from the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC)
“The Rural Crime Team will support the wider constabulary in targeting this area of crime and will be conducting visits like this to victims of rural crime providing them with security advice.
“The creation of a Rural Crime Team provides us with greater opportunities to challenge those who may feel that Cumbria is a soft target for rural crime and ensure that offenders are brought to justice.
“As a predominantly rural force, we are determined create a hostile environment for criminals to safeguard local communities.
“We hope this reassures our rural communities that we have listened to them and are taking action, however we need their support, we know rural crime is under reported and encourage our communities to be vigilant, report any crimes and suspicious activity to us.
“We need our communities reporting this information to us to build a picture of the issue and direct our resources to that area and make it a hostile environment for criminals.”
Jim Campbell said: “I don’t know a farmer that hasn’t been a victim of rural crime in some form so it’s encouraging to see the rural crime unit being set up.
“It confirms to us that rural crime is being taken seriously by the police.“We were lucky to get our quad bike back so quickly which was largely due to the work done by the police to locate it. ”