Community acts on rural crime

'This is a Farm Watch area' - sign of the times in rural communities.
'This is a Farm Watch area' - sign of the times in rural communities.
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Community volunteers joined police for a rural crime crackdown across North Yorkshire this week.

Some 225 Farm Watch volunteers and 110 police officers from six forces patrolled 4,000 square miles of isolated countryside in the biggest operation of its kind in the area to date on Wednesday night.

Yorkshire experienced the most rural crime of all counties in England in 2012/13, leading to £3.4m insurance bill for NFU Mutual the countryside insurer’s most recent crime survey results show. Farm Watch is a scheme that partners police with residents to deter the work of criminals. It is similar to Neighbourhood Watch, but focuses on isolated rural communities. Members share live information with fellow members and officers.

The service has been used, for example, to share messages regarding sightings of vehicles suspected of being linked to poaching, by phone, e-mail and text.

In North Yorkshire this week, 30 volunteers and 22 police officers, including volunteer constables from the Special Constabulary took part in the operation which focused on Richmondshire, the A66/A1 corridor, the Dales, Hambleton, Bedale, Girsby, up to the Durham border and north of Northallerton.

Sergeant Stuart Grainger, of Leyburn Safer Neighbourhood Team, said the operation was an excellent demonstration of how the community join forces with the police to make a stand against criminals.

“We stopped 45 vehicles with the vast majority of the occupants being very supportive of what we were doing. And I’m pleased to report that no crimes were reported in the area.”

NFU Mutual is currently compiling figures for this year’s Rural Crime Report for publication in August, which will give an indication of countryside crime levels in the region over the last 12 months - but a number of worrying trends have started to emerge.

Tim Price, the insurer’s rural affairs spokesman, crackdowns on rural crime in one area tend to see criminals shift to new areas.

He said: “Early signs are that the cost of tractor theft started to rise again in 2013 after a welcome fall in 2012 – and we are also concerned about continuing high levels of livestock rustling in Yorkshire.”

Online chat with police

A webchat with police for the residents of Ryedale to air concerns about local crime and anti-social behaviour is to be held this week.

Inspector Andy Everitt, who leads policing in Ryedale for North Yorkshire Police, will host the live chat via the force’s website at www.northyorkshire.police.uk/webchat on Wednesday, 12-1pm.

Mr Everitt said: “This is a great way of communicating and engaging with our communities to answer and address the issues which concern them the most.

“Webchats help us to understand what residents of Ryedale feel is important and how we can improve our service.”