Police step up fight against rural crime

North Yorkshire Police is stepping up the fight against countryside crime with a new rural watch scheme.

Officers hope that as many local people as possible will sign up to the scheme and help make rural communities safer.

The Country Watch scheme is a crime prevention initiative specially designed to help people living and working in Craven's rural areas.

It was launched at Skipton Auction Mart on Monday (29 April).

Inspector Will Scarlett, of Craven Rural Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: "By the nature of rural crime, individuals and communities can feel more impacted when a crime occurs to them, or near them, as they can feel more isolated and less supported.

"These feelings have been borne out of surveys, done by the police and other organisations, like NFU Mutual.

"Country Watch looks to support these communities and bring them together, so that along with the police, they look out for each other, report incidents, and make life for more difficult for criminals."

People who sign up to the scheme will receive, free of charge, a pack containing gate signs, a car badge, a crime prevention booklet, a note pad for reporting suspicious incidents and information about a number of crime prevention products.

They will also be signed up to a community messaging system, called Ringmaster, which is used to pass out information about crimes and suspicious incidents as well as inform members of successes in the fight against rural crime.

The free members packs have been part-funded through money provided by the Craven Community Safety Partnership.

Partnership co-ordinator Stacey Mitchell said: "The Community Safety Partnership has rural communities as one of its priority areas and is happy to help fund the Country Watch scheme, as it works as a practical crime prevention network designed to answer the needs of people living, working and visiting Craven's rural areas.

"With Craven having a number of borders with other districts it is imperative that we have a network of individuals that can assist in our ability to tackle cross border crime."

Country Watch members are also entitled to a visit from an a officer, who will do a crime prevention survey of their property and suggest a number of measures they can take, to help reduce their chances of becoming a victim of crime.

Officers can also suggest suitable products that are on the market, that can help secure their property and also make their property identifiable if it is stolen and recovered, which is often a difficulty for the police.

Inspector Scarlett added: "I know we have a formula for a scheme, which I hope will be self sustaining, with the support of members and partner organisations.

The scheme has the potential to grow and we will look at ways of engaging with companies who provide different products, to make them available to members, consider patrols with members in our area - as happens in other parts of North Yorkshire and surrounding forces - and loaning equipment, like trackers, alarms, and marking kits, if funding can be found to buy these.

"My ultimate aim, would be for any criminal travelling into Craven, to see the Country Watch sign on every farm entrance, building, or beauty spot, so that the message is loud and clear: they are being watched and are not welcome here."

Officers recognise that farmers can be massively impacted by crime if they lose livestock or a vital piece of machinery.

NFU Mutual have been a key partner in getting the scheme to this point and it is hoped that other partner organisations will also support the scheme and encourage people to join.

Country Watch aims to encourage many different groups to become involved - farms, caravan parks, pubs, stables, parish councils, schools, rural businesses, visitor attractions, residents, hunts, campsites, activity centres, game keepers, churches, bunk barns, B&B, quarries, and fisheries.


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