Rural crime team extended thanks to support from Specials

A police unit piloted in Mid Suffolk last year to focus on rural crime has been extended to include officers in the east and west of the county.

The Rural Crime Unit was introduced in Mid Suffolk in December in 2012 to improve engagement with rural communities and businesses. From October Suffolk Police has increased the unit’s numbers to include one team in Halesworth and one in Stowmarket.

The unit is made up of officers from the Special Constabulary, led by an Inspector, with two sergeants and 12 police constables. Their remit will be to engage with rural businesses and communities on a regular basis, pro-actively patrolling farms and rural spaces to provide reassurance and to deter offenders.

The teams will listen to the concerns of local rural communities to determine their priorities, in a similar way to the way priorities are set by residents for Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

In doing so, the unit aims to reduce common rural problems such as fly-tipping, diesel and heating oil theft, metal theft and anti-social behaviour, as well as gathering intelligence.

Since the introduction of new officers the unit has begun assisting regular officers by patrolling the rural areas and are helping to target high profile rural crimes such as hare coursing and livestock rustling. They will also be used for crime prevention duties and to target any rural areas which are identified as having specific problems.

Suffolk Police have also secured a fully livered Land Rover Discovery for a trial four month period. The vehicle, which did not cost the force any money, has been allocated to the Constabulary’s Rural Crime Officer PC Mark Bryant to support his work to reduce rural crime.

It will be used to increase access to the farms, estates and forests of Suffolk where officers have been unable to patrol before due to the terrain. This will also increase the visibility of the constabulary in areas of Suffolk where residents often feel the most vulnerable.

The vehicle proved a valuable asset on Monday 28 October when severe winds hit the county. The vehicle spent a large part of the day helping to clear roads of fallen trees and branches.

Obtaining the Land Rover and increasing officers in the Rural Crime Unit comes less than two months after Suffolk Police launched a pro-active campaign against hare coursing, as the force continues its efforts to crackdown on all types of rural crime.

Suffolk Police are working with Operation Galileo officers in Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire to deal with gangs of hare coursers that target the county’s farmlands. Anyone found coursing will be prosecuted and also have their vehicles seized and crushed. Known coursing hotspots are now targeted each weekend and the rural crime unit work closely with the NFU and CLA to deal with this activity.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said, “I am really pleased to see that the good work of the rural team in Mid Suffolk has led to this team being extended.

“I am totally committed to more visible policing in remote areas; I made this promise in my election manifesto.

“Earlier this year, following feedback on my policing plan for Suffolk, I championed the dedicated team to focus on rural crime. I asked the Chief Constable to concentrate specific resources on the legitimate concerns of people living in our rural communities.

“The rural economy is important to Suffolk and I am committed to support it. It is not just about farming, there are lots of businesses that rely on visitors to boost the economy and it is crucial that Suffolk has the reputation of being a safe county in which to live, work, travel and invest.”

Chief Inspector Paul Bradford said, “Suffolk is a largely rural county, and specific crime and anti-social behaviour issues affect these communities every day. We have seen some fantastic results from our rural crime team so far, and we are now ready to extend this across the county with support from our Special Constabulary.

“The new teams will work with the Safer Neighbourhood Teams already established in their areas to identify specific problems that can be addressed, and to prevent these crimes from happening in the first place. Relationships with residents and businesses will be key and our officers will work to build on these to ensure that we make our rural communities as safe as possible.”

If anyone would like to get in contact with the Rural Crime Unit they can call 101 and ask for Pc Mark Bryant.