Derbyshire Police ask for laners’ help

Originally Published: April 2019 Words: Alan Kidd

Visitors to the Derbyshire countryside, including recreational 4x4 drivers, have been asked to join a Countryside Watch initiative launched by the local police force’s Rural Crime Team. Announced late last year, the scheme is ’an educational campaign that aims to shine a light on the crimes that very often go unseen, unreported, uninvestigated and undetected.’

Derbyshire, in particular the part of the county within the Peak District, is visited by around 12 million people every year. ’With little by way of natural surveillance,’ says Rural Crime Team leader Sergeant James Shirley, ‘it’s not surprising crime can go unseen and with thousands of square miles, unfortunately despite our best efforts police cannot be everywhere at all times. The aim of Countryside Watch is to employ those 12 million eyes and more, and hone them in on what to look for.

‘These groups visit the countryside in all weathers, day and night, and will greatly increase that natural surveillance that’s required to help us protect our rural communities and the wildlife we are privileged to have here.’

Priorities for the Rural Crime Team include theft of farm machinery, plant and vehicles, livestock offences such as attacks, theft and worrying, fuel theft, equine crime and industrial fly tipping. In terms of wildlife crime, the priorities are badger persecution, from baiting to sett destruction, the disturbance or destruction of bat roosts, poaching and, of particular interest in Derbyshire, raptor persecution.

‘Rural crime costs the economy millions of pounds every year, not only jeopardising business survival but undermining the confidence and feelings of safety of those who make their home in the countryside,’ said Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa. ‘In order to cut rural crime, the police need information. To encourage people to get involved, we must raise awareness of problems and encourage people to report their suspicions.’

The force lists recreational vehicle drivers as one of the groups who it hopes will provide extra eyes and ears when visiting the countryside. If you see people acting suspiciously while out laning – whether in Derbyshire or anywhere else – call 101 and do your bit to help the communities you’re visiting.

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