Police out in force for National Rural Crime Week of Action
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A freshers’ fair, a country show and a ploughing match were among the events police attended to increase awareness of rural crime in Sussex.
Officers used these opportunities to engage with residents, farmers, students and business owners as part of National Rural Crime Week of Action, which ran from 18 September.
The force’s Rural Crime Team (RCT) continues to work with the community to prevent, detect and respond to offences in the countryside all year round, and Inspector Andy Barker has called upon them to remain vigilant.
“This national week of action gives us an ideal opportunity to interact with communities which may otherwise feel isolated or lack in confidence in reporting issues to police,” he said. “But I want to assure them that we are here and we will support you.
“It’s important to acknowledge that rural crime does happen, but it’s even more important to acknowledge the impact it can have on our communities.
“That’s why I would encourage anyone with any concerns, or anyone who has witnessed or fallen victim to a crime, to please contact us. The more information and intelligence we can gather, the more chance we have of protecting our rural communities and catching criminals.”
During the week, the RCT engaged with attendees at a ploughing match in Rodmell near Lewes and at the South of England Show in Ardingly, where they offered advice to people on how to keep themselves and their property safe.
They also joined Neighbourhood Youth Officers at Plumpton College Freshers’ Fair, with the aim of building a long-serving relationship with the next generation of farmers.
Insp Barker added: “We’ve established a brilliant relationship with Plumpton College and will be working with them moving forward. Our officers plan to give inputs to students in lessons and increase their presence on site to build bridges and work towards reducing rural crime across all counties.”
In addition, the RCT teamed up with partners including the DVSA, the Environment Agency, West Sussex County Council, Mid Sussex District Council, Crawley Borough Council, Horsham District Council and the HMRC red diesel team to conduct a roadside operation on the A23 near Handcross. This involved targeting waste carriers and heavy plant vehicles being moved.
It led to 14 vehicles being issued with prohibitions due to dangerous defects, which meant they could not leave the site until repairs had been carried out. These prohibitions ranged from damaged tyres to defective obligatory lights through to insecure loading of vehicles.
Insp Barker said: “I am proud of the work our Rural Crime Team does, and we continue to work together with our communities to ensure our rural spaces in Sussex are a safe place to live, work and visit – and a hostile environment to criminals.”
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “Many people assume that rural crime is just crime that happens in rural areas but the impact goes far beyond that.
“It includes any crime or anti-social behaviour that impinges on the effectiveness of a rural-based business like a farm or agricultural company. It also includes heritage crime, environmental crime and it can have devastating effects on our wildlife too.
“62% of Sussex is classed as rural or super-rural so it’s important we have a dedicated team that understands these issues, especially the complicated legislation and works closely with other agencies, letting criminals know their actions won’t be tolerated and providing reassurance to residents that rural crime is taken seriously.”
Read more about rural crime, and what you can do to prevent, detect and report it, here.