Photograph: L-R Sgt Darren Belfield, Clive Harris (NFU Mutual), James McKay (Honeybank Conservation), Nick Payne [rear] (Rural Services Network), Deputy Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa, Police & Crime Commissioner Alan Charles, Duncan McNiven (RSPB), ACC K
New, forward-thinking plans for fighting Derbyshire countryside crimes ranging from animal cruelty to theft from farmers were announced at Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles’ ground-breaking Rural and Wildlife Crime Summit.
The first and already successful Farmwatch partnership scheme currently operational in the Derbyshire Dales and High Peak areas is now to be rolled out across each of Derbyshire Constabulary’s divisions. And the force is in the process of widening the scope of specialist rural officers to include wildlife and rural crime across the county.
Mr Charles, who was joined at his conference in South Normanton by delegates and inspirational speakers from as far afield as Devon and Edinburgh, said: “I am delighted that as a result of this summit the force has agreed to put more formal structures in place to deal with these problems.
“But the force can’t work alone. It needs the expertise of different groups and partners to deliver effective solutions. The clear message is that we all need to work together – and we now have to put words into action. This includes running awareness campaigns to let people know what problems to report and who to.”
He had invited police, community safety partners and organisations concerned about countryside crime, cruelty and conservation to share their experiences and ideas with a view to dealing with problems in Derbyshire and elsewhere. “I was greatly heartened by their commitment,” he commented. “You could actually feel their enthusiasm in the room.
“I’m pleased that, as PCC, I can put these issues on the local agenda via the Police and Crime Plan. I have done that, not just because it is something close to my own values but because the public have repeatedly said it is a key concern.”
The conference agreed that funding and resources were a big challenge, that networks and partnerships groups were the way forward and that information-sharing was critical.
Intent on increasing awareness among staff and officers as well as the public, the force is now planning training around wildlife and rural crime issues, particularly for those likely to be the first point of contact, to ensure that they fully understand the significance of the information they are receiving.
Mr Charles added: “We need to tell the public what to look for and make it more widely known that there are links between the serious criminal who commits crimes against animals, wildlife and rural crime and other types of serious offences including organised crime. With increased awareness and reporting of these crimes, the police will have the necessary information to tackle them.”
Crime-related issues that have an impact on the wildlife and countryside of Derbyshire range from poaching, persecution of birds of prey, hare coursing and badger baiting to destruction of the environment and fly-tipping.
“Our farming communities also face problems which can threaten their livelihoods,” Mr Charles pointed out. “These crimes include theft of diesel, livestock and agricultural machinery such as tractors.”
The Farmwatch scheme is an example of successful anti-crime partnership working in the countryside. It involves local rural businesses working alongside the police to reduce farm-related crime.
Posted on Friday 27th September 2013