POLICE forces have embarked on a series of initiatives aimed at combating crime in the countryside.
Avon and Somerset police bolstered their rural crime prevention and detection capability with kit worth thousands of pounds and a briefing day for local expert officers.
The force's Rural Crime Team has secured almost £8,000 of security items such as alarms and security cameras which can be loaned to farms while there is a higher risk of theft.
Equipment can also be used as a demonstrator before making a decision to buy privately. Robust items were chosen so they were sturdy enough for an agricultural environment
Kit boxes were distributed to expert rural crime officers and PCSOs from across the force area at a briefing day hosted by Somerset NFU chairman Nick Bragg.
Some 50 local rural crime contacts were given more detailed training and briefed about the continued rollout across the force of the Farmwatch scheme.
The event took place on the eve of the launch of Operation Hamper in Avon and Somerset which is aimed at preventing rural crime in the run-up to Christmas.
Superintendent Ian Wylie said: "We are under no illusions about the challenge of preventing and detecting crime here, which is why we take this element of our work so seriously."
The goal was to create a network of experts across the organisation which would support the force's ambition to increase its capability in relation to rural crime issues.
It came as five police forces in the north of England took part in Operation Checkpoint with the aim of providing reassurance patrols across rural communities.
Some 139 vehicles were stopped and cash and drugs seized in a joint police operation as part of a clampdown against travelling criminals.
The operation and intelligence gathering initiative involved more than 80 officers from North Yorkshire, Durham, Cleveland, Cumbria and Northumbria Police.
They took to the roads in what is the fourth operation of its kind, designed to create a hostile environment for travelling criminals to operate.
Intelligence shows that organised crime groups are targeting rural areas, moving across county borders in the north of England to steal goods, predominantly from rural communities.
North Yorkshire assistant chief constable Paul Kennedy said rural residents were also given advice about crime prevention with the distribution of a rural crime prevention booklet.
He said: "Taking basic crime prevention steps is vital for all residents, but particularly important for people who live and work in remote, rural areas where natural surveillance is limited."
Meanwhile, Essex Police held a special event so officers and staff could give one-to-one advice to rural residents and business owners on 18 November.
Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh officially opened the third annual Rural Crime Awareness Day at Layer Marney, near Colchester.
This event is to provide members of the farming and rural community with information regarding crime prevention and security advice.
Attendees were able to liaise with police officers and exhibitors who showcased their services and products during the day.
The event covered the security of machinery, tractors, plant, metals, diesel, oil, tools, vehicles, caravans, trailers, tack, dwellings, barns, stables, fields and farms.
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