Cheshire Police currently have a Ruralwatch scheme in operation to prevent and detect Rural Crime. In order to prevent crime and improve relations between local farmers, a “POLICE STOP ME” campaign has been implemented. Adhesive stickers were devised and distributed for sticking on the rear of Tractors, farm machinery and trailers.
Identifying the problem
Traditionally due to the proximity to the main M6 and M56 routes, these areas have been targeted for Plant and Agricultural Machinery thefts due to the easy escape routes. The area is 77 square miles of rural farms and fields.
The consequences of the problem led to hostility and lack of confidence in the Police from the Rural Community. The problem was identified by the Rural Beat Officer who established that local officers also needed educating around Rural Crime in particular Plant and Agricultural machinery Theft.
The adhesive stickers were used as a reassurance measure for local farmers but to also inform officers to “stopcheck” the machinery during night time of hours of “20:00hrs to 05:00hrs”.
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The dry clean adhesive “POLICE STOP ME” stickers which were distributed in the rural/farming community.
The uniformed response officers and PCSO’s were also educated in what to look for with regards “Theft indicators” for Plant and Agricultural machinery. And the locations of Chassis Frame and VIN numbers.
The project which was low cost, led to a massive increase in confidence in Rural Policing
What didn't work
This method of “target hardening” and education was one of a number of initiatives which when used with other crime prevention methods such as property marking, farm crime prevention surveys and arresting offenders. The National Crime Figures from the NFU Mutual concluded that Rural Crime in the Knutsford area fell due to the Ruralwatch scheme by more than 50%.
During the last two years Cheshire Police have been approached from West Mercia and Hertfordshire along with the Skegness Crime Prevention Panel to implement the Rural Scheme in their Rural areas.