Police develop new strategy to tackle rural crime in St Albans

Herts police are instigating a new strategy to tackle rural crime in St Albans.

Herts police are instigating a new strategy to tackle rural crime in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

The St Albans Safer Neighbourhood Inspector is developing a strategy to combat an increase of crime in rural areas of the district.

According to Insp Jon Roche, rural crime is on the increase in the areas covered by the St Albans Community Safety Partnership (CSP). In response to this, police have been listening to local farmers and landowners to see how they can work more effectively to reduce rural crime.

Insp Roche said: “As part of our new strategy we are training more officers to deal with rural crime. We already have one dedicated rural and wildlife officer; PC Jane Flemons, who has dealt with many rural crime issues with the support from our Rural Operational Support Team (ROST), but we now need more specialist officers like her.

“Rural issues include loose horses, plant theft and hare coursing, which can have a very damaging effect on our communities.

“Fly-tipping, which is one of the biggest problems facing the rural community costs the council via the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds every year.

“When a crime occurs in a rural area it has the potential to have a significant impact not only on the victim themselves but in many case their livelihood and the community as a whole, like an acquisitive crime committed within an urban area.

“We have put special measures in place to fully equip our officers to deal with victims of rural crime and catch offenders.”

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The strategy is designed to complement the police and crime commissioner’s Community Safety Justice Plan, which ‘puts victims at the centre’ and is ‘public focused’. Police will be working with the district council and the National Farmers’ Union.

Insp Roche added: “Rural crime is organised, often involving cross-border criminals, so we are looking outside of Hertfordshire for best practice.

“Barn meetings have previously been well-attended and more may be set up. We will also be using four by four vehicles and utilising technology to catch offenders.

“I hope that victims of rural crime will feel more confident in reporting crime to us knowing that they will be taken seriously and join schemes like Rural Watch and Heritage Watch via the Online watch Link (OWL) at www.owl.co.uk or speak to their local officer about receiving emails about crime happening in their local area.

“We would also encourage landowners to invest in security measures, like CCTV, where possible as a deterrent.”