Week-long police programme targets rural crime in Bedfordshire

From Bedfordshire Police's largest-ever operation to tackle illegal fishing, to clampdowns on waste and traffic offences, officers had a successful Rural Crime Week of Action.

Monday, 21st October 2019, 4:35 pm

The scheme, which took place throughout the county, saw the force team up with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the Environment Agency (EA) and local councils.

On October 7, the force's Operation Sentinel rural crime team undertook their largest-ever operation to tackle illegal fishing, focussing on fishing without a licence, poaching and fish theft.

14 officers, the EA Fisheries Team, and NFU officers patrolled nearly 40 fisheries, while also displaying posters in the area which aim to educate the fishing community as well as raising wider awareness among the wider public.

The following day police officers and environmental protection officers worked alongside local authority licensing teams to focus on patrolling rural areas to identify fly-tipping sides.

Throughout the day they checked 25 larger vehicles and reported six people for carrying waste without a licence. Additionally, seven people were reported for not completing waste transfer notes.

These documents are important to prove that their waste has been disposed of in a legal disposal site and not dumped on private land. The team also checked scrap yards and other premises which break down cars and sell their parts.

On October 9 the team focused on vehicle crime with Bedfordshire's neighbouring forces. Officers seized two cars and reported two people for road traffic offences.

The following day Bedfordshire Police launched its Crime Reduction Handbook for rural businesses, which has been created with contributions from a number of partners including the Home Office, the EA, the NFU, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and local farmers.

It contains advice on the different types of crimes which affect our rural communities. Local businesses can find out information about issues such as fly-tipping, hare coursing and sheep worrying, but it also contains information on things such as fertiliser security and modern day slavery.

And throughout October 10, the rural crime team and community teams attended a training day where they were learning about community problem-solving and how to apply it in a rural environment.

To complete the week long engagement, the team spent the weekend patrolling the county to deter hare coursing and sheep worrying. They also visited a number of businesses to deliver the newly launched handbook and speak to residents about their concerns.

Sergeant Stuart Grant, from the Sentinel Rural team, said: “This busy week was an amazing success. My team has worked tirelessly ahead of and during this week of action and I am immensely proud of the work they have delivered.

“This wouldn’t be possible without the support from our partners in the local council, the Home Office, the National Farmers’ Union and the Environment Agency, as well as the Leighton Buzzard, Houghton Regis and Dunstable community teams.

"I would also like to thank our rural businesses and farmers; your support is always appreciated and we wouldn’t be able to carry out our work without your help.”

NFU county adviser Oliver Rubinstein said: “Rural crime is an enormous issue for farmers in Bedfordshire. Many of them have had to take quite dramatic steps to limit their vulnerability, such as blocking off field entrances and digging ditches.

“It’s good to see Bedfordshire Police recognising the impact it has through the launch of this handbook and targeted action to tackle hare coursing, fly-tipping and other rural crimes. Working together we can make a real difference in the fight against the rural criminals who blight so many lives.”