Police forces join together for rural crime action

Five police forces covering from across northern England came together for a major rural policing operation.

Dozens of officers and volunteers from Cleveland, Durham, Lancashire, Northumbria and North Yorkshire took part in Operation Checkpoint, targeting criminals who use road networks to offend in rural areas. Police hoped to provide reassurance and offer advice to residents.

It aims to gather intelligence on cross-border offending and prevent and disrupt criminal activity through intelligence-led patrols and the use of an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system.

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The National Police Chiefs Council’s Rural Affairs Strategy, launched in Harrogate in July, identified that organised crime groups target the countryside for many reasons, including farm machinery, plant and vehicle theft, livestock theft and poaching.


It is believed rural areas are perceived as soft targets, with criminals using minor roads and travelling long distances to reduce the chance of detection.

The police operation ran throughout Thursday into the early hours of today, with each force providing officers and specialist resources for their own areas.

In North Yorkshire, officers and PCSOs from the Rural Taskforce worked alongside Road Policing Group officers, Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Special Constables. They were joined by Mobile Rural Watch volunteers, who worked alongside police to identify suspicious vehicles and potential offenders.

Deployments were focused particularly on the Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate and Richmondshire areas of the county.

In total, there were more than one hundred stop-checks conducted between forces, resulting in 15 searches, three vehicles seized, and one arrest for theft in the Cleveland area.

Numerous pieces of intelligence were submitted, gathered from interaction with rural communities, and more than 50 farms were visited to offer reassurance and crime prevention advice, officers said.

Inspector Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “Operations like Checkpoint send a clear message to criminals – we will not tolerate their offending in our rural areas.

"Forces will continue to work together, not only to disrupt criminal activity, but also to provide reassurance and support to local residents and businesses, and keep them safe.

“By working together across force borders we can share information and identify criminals wherever they are from and wherever they are going. And by drawing on the expert local knowledge of our invaluable Rural Watch volunteers, we can respond immediately to suspicious activity.”