THE chief of a rural police unit set to gain extra officers this year has said it will soon be able to patrol North East Wales every day of the week.

North Wales Police’s Rural Crime Team, which tackles issues including livestock attacks and thefts, wildlife offences and illegal off-roading, was allocated three extra constables in the crime commissioner Arfon Jones’s Police and Crime Plan last year, bringing its team up to 11 officers.

Experts say the pioneering task force, established in 2013, has set a benchmark for policing the countryside in the UK. It provided a model for the more recent Dyfed-Powys Rural Crime Team which together have contributed to a seven per cent fall in rural crime in Wales, amid a 20 per cent rise in England.

Mr Taylor, who leads both rural crime teams, said the new officers for North Wales will mean the unit can step up the presence of its PCSOs across the region.

“We will be able to double our coverage in west, central and east regions which currently have one team member each,” said Mr Taylor.

“Improving our communication with rural communities is important to tackling rural crime. In the past these were not seen as common offences and these communities may have been hesitant to come forward, but now we have a specialist team for them to contact.

“We also have experts in rural policing who are able to build bridges with communities and farmers’ unions.”

FUW president Glyn Roberts said the rural policing boost is “excellent news”.

“Every year rural crime costs millions of pounds and causes untold anxiety to farmers and rural businesses," he said. "North Wales police have been leading the way in making sure that rural crime is less attractive for those up to no good.”

Livestock attacks and farm thefts form a major part of the unit’s work and Mr Taylor said farm security including on-site CCTV will help prevent crime and catch offenders.

The unit itself uses high-tech methods to combat rural crime, including drones for poaching and hunting offences.

However Mr Taylor, who chairs the National Priority Delivery Group for Livestock Offences said fresh laws are needed in 2020 to cover issues surrounding DNA findings, attacks on lambs and alpacas, making it easier to punish offenders.

He said: “We have tried education, their dogs could be shot and the devastating effect livestock attacks have on cattle, but now we need to strengthen the law so they can be prosecuted and hit with a large fine.”