Successful start for new-look rural crime team

Alert message sent 23/04/2021 15:03:00

Information sent on behalf of Wiltshire Police

It has been an impressive six months for Wiltshire Police’s new Rural Crime Team who have been working tirelessly to protect our isolated communities and make Wiltshire and Swindon a place that criminals fear.

Since the start of October, the team have charged 11 individuals with various offences, conducted 15 operations in conjunction with partners, worked hard to disrupt Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) and delivered rural crime training to over 600 officers and staff.

The team, made up of one sergeant, three constables and 35 community policing team officers who are trained, and can offer support, as Wildlife and Heritage Crime Officers, operate across the county. An Inspector acts as a tactical lead in addition to members of our Special Constabulary who are used on pre-planned operations.

Sgt Greg Fergusson, Rural Crime Lead, said: “The past six months or so have been busy and seen a lot of change for the team. This has also come at a time where hare coursing season has been in full swing.

“In January, the team secured three convictions for poaching offences in Collingbourne Ducis and one individual also received an order under Section 143 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 to deprive them of their rights to have a hunting lamp.

“This was followed by the convictions of three more individuals who were all found guilty of daylight trespass in pursuit of game at Swindon Magistrates’ Court on 6 April 2021.

“The team have also been working on making sure our Force response to rural crime is swift, effective and puts our communities first. Training has been delivered to over 600 police officers, PCSOs and Local Crime Investigators, and a rural crime community group has been introduced to improve engagement.

“Our Farm Watch members and the public continue to be our eyes and ears. Their quick reporting allows us to respond and catch criminals in the act. We also remain committed to the national strategy, Operation Galileo, which allows police forces to use civil and criminal powers to prevent offending by hare coursers and protect vulnerable victims.

“We cannot hide from the fact that criminals are becoming more organised, determined and using more sophisticated technology so there is always more that can be done. We will continue to improve and adapt as necessary, but I know the team are focused on making Wiltshire and Swindon a county that criminals fear and think twice about before entering”.

Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson, said: “The rural crime team are doing incredible work and have seen some great convictions over the past few months that will no doubt be welcomed by our rural communities.  

“In my Police and Crime Plan and facilitated by the increase in the precept with national uplift in officer numbers, I promised to protect rural communities. The introduction of additional dedicated officers to the team have allowed the Force to run extra operations, take geographical responsibility of areas to gain further intelligence, and reassure our communities that we are committed to tackling rural crime.

“We live in a predominantly rural county so the policing service must be tailored to the needs of our diverse communities. While it is crucial to prevent violent crime areas across the county, there is a specific need to protect rural communities from the distinct threats they face.

"We will continue to engage with our rural communities and our partners with a vested interest in tackling rural crime directly through the Rural Crime Partnership. This allows us to keep our finger on the pulse regarding the challenges they are facing and work together to tackle them."

If you have any information in relation to rural crime, please call Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Message sent by
Shea D'arcy (Police, Communications Officer, Wiltshire)

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