Volunteers needed against rural crime

POLICE in one of England's largest counties are appealing for volunteers to help tackle rural crime.

Cumbria Police and Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner hope rural residents will give up a small amount of their time as part of the 'Country Watch' scheme.

Special "nights of action" will see vetted volunteers attend a formal briefing before going out to observational points between 8pm and 2am, a number of times a year.

While in location, the volunteers would alert police to any suspicious vehicles that would not normally be on the road at that time of night.

    See also: New partnership tackles rural crime

No-one would be expected to stop or challenge anyone or to confront criminals in any way.

The nights of action have already been successfully in the north of the county for a number of years, but are being launched in the south of the county.

They form part of the wider Country Watch, which also includes a sheep theft initiative to provide training and practical knowledge to officers.

Challenges of rural policing were discussed by police and crime commissioner Peter McCall at a public surgery and drop-in session in Kirkby Lonsdale.

"I have always been clear that tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in the county is all about 'we, not they'," he said.

"I am very much in support of the drive to recruit local volunteers to act as the eyes and ears of the police in rural locations, and alert them to any suspicious activity."

Mr McCall said catching criminals relied heavily on good information and local residents were best placed to give this.

"Communities need to work together to deal with local issues, and this is a great example of how people can get involved.

Police sergeant Suzanne Scott-O' Neill said: "Country Watch provides an excellent opportunity for residents to get involved in the prevention of rural crime.

"We have already had some volunteers come forward to assist in south Cumbria, and are looking forward to working with them and more that are willing to help.

"The initiative sends out a clear message to criminals that our communities will come together to ensure they don't travel through their towns and villages unnoticed."

Anyone who would like to volunteer is asked to contact Cumbria Police on 101 and ask to speak to Sgt Suzanne Scott-O'Neill (south Cumbria) or PC Shirley Murray (north Cumbria).


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