A SPECIAL police taskforce is turning the tide of rural crime in Denbighshire - and “setting a benchmark” for the UK.
The dedicated team was set up six months ago by North Wales Police at the request of Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick and it has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of countryside offences.
These include such diverse offences as livestock rustling, theft of farm machinery, badger digging and stealing rare birds eggs.
Since the North Wales Police Rural Crime Team was introduced the number of rural incidents has been recorded on a daily basis.
After peaking in October at 116, they have been dropping steadily with 72 in January, a fall of nearly 40 per cent.
Winston Roddick said: “During my campaign for the post of Police and Crime Commissioner I visited livestock markets and met farmers and members of the rural communities and without exception they pointed to how much crime was taking place in the countryside.
“These offences ran into millions of pounds and this reinforced the view expressed to me that we should dedicate more resources to combating rural crime.
“Even though the countryside is sparsely populated it contributes an enormous amount to the Welsh economy so it is entitled to effective policing and when I took that to the Chief Constable it was accepted immediately and acted upon immediately.
“Since then the Rural Crime Team has made an excellent start and they are setting a benchmark for the rest of the UK. Their work is attracting a great deal of interest from other forces.”
The team is headed by Sergeant Rob Taylor who has four full-time police constables supported by a network of PCSOs and special constables.
Sergeant Taylor said: “There wasn’t a dedicated crime team for the countryside although many years ago there used to be a farm liaison officer and a lot of farmers told me they regretted the loss of the position.
“But now we have a task force and the results speak for themselves and we have had very positive feedback nationally so that we are seen as a benchmark of best practice and have had other forces from England and Wales showing interest in what we do.
“We use intelligence-led policing and make use of data which we analyse so that we put resources where they’re needed and when they’re needed.”
FUW Denbighshire county executive officer Rhys Roberts said: “Investment in tackling rural crime is a great boost for the farming economy and has enhanced the safety of rural and isolated communities.”
Contact the team via the North Wales Police system by dialling 101 or by email Ruralcrimeteam@north-wales.police.uk.