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Force launches first rural crime team initiative

Wildlife offending in spotlight across UK as police pledge week of action

Britain’s smallest force has launched a big offensive – with its first dedicated rural crime team.

The Warwickshire force has turned its attention to targeting countryside offending in its leafy lanes which have been a rich breeding ground for criminals in recent times.

Fresh from winning praise from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service for its “noticeable” improvement in crime recording practices, the force has chosen the Wildlife and Rural Crime Week to kick-off the initiative.

The team, based at Greys Mallory, near Warwick, includes four officers and a rural crime officer. Each officer will have responsibility for a specific part of the county.

Inspector Allison Wiggin said: “Our rural crime strategy focuses on the significant issues affecting farmers, businesses and rural communities such as the theft and illegal butchery of sheep, theft of machinery, and fly tipping.

“It’s a really wide remit but has specific strands we are concentrating on.

“The team will work closely with the others within Warwickshire Police to support them in tackling some of these issues.”

Chief Constable Martin Jelley said: “This is great news for our rural communities and demonstrates that we have listened to their concerns and acted on them.

Police and crime commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “I hope it reinforces the message that crime will not be tolerated in any part of Warwickshire, including our rural communities.”

Other forces are increasing their activities in the week-long national campaign, which runs until Sunday.

The week of action has already seen a major police operation spanning the north of England with hundreds of officers and volunteers taking part in Operation Checkpoint, the largest operation of its kind in the country.

The forces involved in Checkpoint share intelligence and information and patrol across force boundaries to target criminals, disrupting their use of the road network in rural areas.

North Yorkshire Police is involved in three operations – Galileo, aimed at disrupting illegal poaching, such as hare coursing; Dusk, proactive policing targeting criminals who travel into rural areas from neighbouring regions; and, Harvester, which sees hundreds of volunteers operate mobile rural watches across the countryside.

Officers will be working alongside partner agencies such as Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust to keep North Yorkshire’s countryside and wildlife protected.

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