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Thames Valley rural crime unit to bolster cross border work

A cross border rural crime team has been launched in a bid to cut offending in the South East.

Thames Valley has widened its operations against rural crime with a new dedicated taskforce.

The force is partnering up with Hampshire so a team of officers can access resources including intelligence support, drone units and its economic crime unit.

The team will be focusing on offending linked to farms, agriculture, wildlife, the environment and heritage sites.

One of the reasons behind the decision is the rise in cross-border crime, particularly hare coursing.

And it's the second initiative of its kind where officers have teamed up to work across borders. Last summer Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent announced they were uniting to take on hare coursing gangs.

TVP said creating the team will also lead to better access to forensic investigators in order to better capture evidence from GPS unit thefts on farms.

And better working with the Economic Crime Unit will enable targeted work against the proceeds of crime as many offences are carried out by organised crime gangs involved in other activities such as drug dealing.

Rural Crime Taskforce Inspector, Stuart Hutchings said: “The trust and confidence of our rural communities is extremely important to us. 

“The taskforce will make the Thames Valley a hostile place for anyone looking to commit rural crime. We now have a team of dedicated officers committed to making our rural communities safer as well as staff who are trained in the complexities of rural crime and its impacts. We will not tolerate rural crime.” 

Rural business owners said the new resource would make a significant impact, particularly for farmers and growers whose machinery is a constant target.

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire NFU chair Alex Nelms said: “For a long time now, we have been calling for greater resources that would enable the force to be better placed to tackle specific types of rural crime, given the challenges of working over such a broad area.

“This taskforce will also undoubtedly boost the amount of intelligence gathered by Thames Valley Police that it will be able to share with neighbouring forces, where criminals are operating across borders.” 

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