Partnership fights rural crime in the Thames Valley

Thames Valley Police improved its response to rural crime by forming a partnership spanning the three counties of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

Author
Inspector Angie Jones, Neighbourhood Policing & Partnerships, Thames Valley Police
Location
Thames Valley, England
Crime Type
Plant theft, Poaching
The problem
Rural crime was identified as being one of the crimes of most concern to the community.

Summary

Formed in 2011, the Thames Valley Rural Crime Partnership aimed to bring together relevant individuals and organisations in the fight against rural crime.

It aimed to provide coordination and strategic leadership, with police activity driven and monitored through the TVP Rural Crime Steering Group.

Combating rural crime then became a priority within the 2013/14 delivery plan of both Thames Valley Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Rural crime had been identified as one of the crimes of most concern to the community.

Local residents and businesses were concerned that the police were not engaging with them, did not understand the impact of rural crime and had dedicated too few resources to tackle it.

The strategy employed by the partnership to tackle and investigate rural crime focused on intelligence, enforcement and prevention.

The initial response and grading of rural crime was reviewed and the use of automatic number plate recognition in rural areas was increased.

Police improved the investigation or rural crime by reviewing appropriate cases on a daily basis and allocating appropriate investigative resources.

Enforcement activity was increased by carrying out and publicising 20 special operations against rural crime – billed as 100 Days of Action.

TVP1

This saw police working to tackle rural crime across the force area and improve the confidence within rural communities using proactive operational and crime prevention methods.

In doing so, police were able to highlight their activity so rural residents were aware about what was going on both in their local area and across the Thames Valley.

Crime prevention reduction advisors were deployed to provide an enhanced service to farmers and security mark 500 agricultural vehicles using in designated high risk areas.

Special constables were trained to tackle rural crime and provide reliable information to enable an effective response against any emerging threats.

The partnership also increased and maximised the use of Thames Valley Police alerts to support Country Watch branding and Neighbourhood Watch schemes.

Thames Valley alert membership increased by more than 10,000 and there have been almost 400 CESAR installations since January 2013.

Theft of agricultural machinery and plant has reduced and police have improved their engagement with rural communities – and their understanding of rural crime.

In August 2014, rural insurer NFU Mutual reported a 19% decrease in rural crime across the three counties – bucking the national trend of a 5.2% increase.

Thames Valley Police rural crime data supports this, showing a 16% reduction.

The partnership had identified four priorities in 2011.

They were tackling theft of farm machinery and plant, targeting organised crime groups; clamping down on poaching and hare coursing; and raising awareness of rural crime.

These priorities will shortly be modified under the heading of maintaining crime prevention and reduction activity to tackle crimes of most concern to the rural community.

The fight against rural crime is now seen as “business as usual” for Thames Valley Police and the revised action plan will see an additional focus on preventing illegal raves.

Staff training is ongoing. Thames Valley Police continues to fund discounts of CESAR to encourage installation and also has 13 Wildlife Crime Officers.

Consequences

Concerns from the rural community that the Police were not engaging with them, did not understand the impact of rural crime and were committing too few resources to tackle it.

Through the Thames Valley Rural Crime Partnership, in 2011 the below were agreed as priorities:

  1. Theft of agricultural machinery and plant
  2. Organised Crime Groups
  3. Poaching/Hare Coursing (Including theft of working dogs)
  4. Education/Awareness re: Rural Crime (within TVP)

Under the heading of: Maintaining crime prevention and reduction activity to tackle crimes of most concern to the rural community, these will shortly be modified to:

  1. Theft of Agricultural Machinery and Plant (quad bikes)
  2. Poaching / Hare Coursing including theft of dogs
  3. OCG/PCG (Organised Crime Groups / Problem Crime Groups)
  4. Raves

Rural crime has an action within the 2015/16 TVP Delivery Plan

Actions

Measures were formulated to improve response to, and investigation of rural crime through intelligence, enforcement and prevention:

  • Increase ANPR capability and use in rural areas
  • Review the initial response to and grading of rural crime
  • Improve the investigation of rural crime by reviewing appropriate cases locally on a daily basis and allocating appropriate investigative resource
  • Increase enforcement activity by carrying out and publicising 20 operations – “100 Days of Action
  • Deploy Crime Prevention Reduction Advisors (CPRA) to provide an enhanced service to farmers in high risk areas, with a target to mark 500 agricultural vehicles using CESAR
  • Train special constables to tackle rural crime
  • Provide reliable management information to enable an effective response and identification of emerging threats
  • Increase and maximize the use of TVP Alerts to support Country Watch, neighbourhood and partnership initiatives

What worked

  • Country Watch branding developed for literature and website
  • TV Alert membership increased by over 10,000
  • Almost 400 CESAR installations since Jan 2013
  • Reduction in theft of agricultural machinery/plant

What didn't work

Staff turnover highlighted the fact that rural crime awareness training must be ongoing.

Outcomes

  • In August 2014 NFU Mutual reported a decrease in rural crime of 19% across our three counties, bucking the national trend of a 5.2% increase. TVP rural crime data supports this – showing a 16% reduction
  • Improved engagement with rural community
  • Improved understanding of rural crime by TVP staff
  • TVP continues to fund discount of CESAR to encourage installation
  • 13 Wildlife Crime Officers
  • Much of the above activity is now “business as usual”

Lessons learnt

Undoubtedly there may be aspects of activity on LPAs which have been adapted over time, but none of such significance that they have been raised at strategic level.

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