New rural crime prevention officer to enhance safety

Posted on: Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Victims of rural crime are set to be given free security upgrades to prevent their properties and vehicles being targeted and to make them feel safer.

A dedicated full-time rural crime prevention officer has been appointed in the last few weeks. David Elms will soon be getting to work assessing the needs of rural crime victims and implementing a range of so-called “target hardening” measures to make it more difficult for criminals to reoffend.

The measures could include installing CCTV and motion sensor lighting to prevent break-ins, and measures to prevent vehicle theft such as gating and installing concrete blocks to restrict access.

The £200,000 project – funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire’s Safer4All fund - will help secure rural homes and businesses across the Bassetlaw and Newark and Sherwood districts, which include some of the biggest rural spaces in the county.

Nottinghamshire Police will deliver the initiative with support from partners at Bassetlaw District Council and Newark and Sherwood District Council.

Other projects that will be delivered as part of the scheme include installing mobile automatic number plate recognition cameras to two rural 4x4 vehicles to enhance the existing network of fixed cameras on the county’s roads – which instantly alert police to sightings of vehicles linked to criminal activity.

Multi-agency days of action on rural crime issues such as fuel theft and plant machinery theft will be carried out.

The rural crime prevention officer will also carry out crime prevention and engagement visits to working farms in the area as part of the scheme, with the funding running until September 2024.

The funding builds on Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry’s commitment to tackling rural crime as part of the Make Notts Safe policing plan, which has already seen investment allowing the force to purchase a two 4x4 rural crime vehicles, which have been ordered and are due to be delivered in October, as well as thermal imaging goggles to help officers spot suspects in unlit rural areas at night-time.

“While volumes of rural crime may be lower than other crime types, it has a disproportionate impact on its victims,” said Commissioner Henry. “For example, a single vehicle theft in a rural area could mean the loss of a £120,000 tractor that is not only incredibly costly and difficult to replace but can have a huge knock-on impact to the running of a farm as a business.

“That’s why, after we consulted the public on the Make Notts Safe Plan, we included a special focus on rural crime which is now being implemented.

“This latest funding should help provide even greater protection for homes and businesses in rural areas and stop criminals in their tracks. Not only will it make rural communities safer – it will make people feel safer, which is just as important.”  

Nottinghamshire Police’s rural crime lead Chief Inspector Heather Maelor said there are now 48 PCs and PCSOs across the force who have access to specialist equipment, resources and training to increase awareness and ensure a better service for victims in their areas.

Call handlers and dispatchers are also given additional training by the National Farmers’ Union to help them better understand and respond to the unique impact that rural crime can have when they assess the threat, risk and harm caused by the incident being reported.

“This new dedicated rural crime prevention officer role will complement the work that has been happening,” said Ch Insp Maelor.

“It feels like everything is adding on and building up to make an improved policing offer for rural communities.”

Councillor Roger Jackson, Portfolio Holder for Cleaner, Safer, Greener at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “I am delighted that, working with our key partners, we have secured this investment for our rural communities.  Our plan now is to work with these communities to identify what measures we can put in place that will offer the best results and have the greatest impact.

“As a district council, we are doing so much to ensure we are cleaner, safer and greener, and this additional funding will help us not only support those victims of crime but also undertake some high-profile rural crime interventions.

“No one should have to experience crime of any nature and we will continue to do all we can at every opportunity to reduce, or even better eliminate, that.”

Councillor James Naish, Leader at Bassetlaw District Council said: “As a Councillor for a rural ward I know of the impact that rural crime can have on farms, agribusiness and residents.

“Increasing the support for victims of rural crime and investing in target hardening and preventive measures is a positive move that can help make our communities safer.”