Inspector Jon Grainge is in charge of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce. Here, he explains the proactive work the police are doing to combat rural crime and how residents can help by supporting the new “Call it in” campaign.
The police have always had excellent support from people living in Harrogate’s rural communities, and I’m delighted that this relationship continues to this day.
Last year, a survey by the National Rural Crime Network identified that some rural communities were under-reporting crime by up to a third, and many were living in fear of crime being committed against them.
That’s where North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce comes in. The team was established earlier this year, and includes an Inspector, a Sergeant, seven PCs and seven PCSOs, based across the districts of North Yorkshire. In Harrogate, many of you will already have met PC David Mackay, who has recently been joined by PCSO Matt Cockerill.
We also have an intelligence analyst, and a rural policing coordinator – ensuring that the Rural Taskforce can respond to trends in crime, flexibly and proactively, using information gleaned from colleagues, communities, and partners alike.
Our role is to tackle rural acquisitive crime, wildlife crime and heritage crime as part of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Policing Strategy, which focusses on four key areas – prevention, intelligence, enforcement and reassurance.
We aim to enhance the work already carried out by our Harrogate-based Neighbourhood Policing Teams, Response, and Proactive Policing colleagues in tackling rural crime head-on.
Recent developments by North Yorkshire Police have helped us do this – none more so than our new Community Messaging system. North Yorkshire Community Messaging allows members of the public to register to receive alerts, crime notifications, crime prevention advice, and community news specific to Harrogate via text, email or through notifications on an iOS or Android app. It’s a simple process to sign up, at www.nycm.co.uk, and I’d urge you to do so!
Providing people with information is the start of two-way communication, so that our communities can tell us about those suspect incidents, or issues which affect them.
Our new ‘Call it in’ campaign asks people to do exactly that. Particularly in rural areas, local residents and businesses can act as the eyes and ears of the police, helping us clamp down on crime and anti-social behaviour whenever it occurs. Local people know when something or someone is suspicious, out of place or unusual in your community, and we need you to tell us about it.
Meanwhile, the Taskforce has been present at numerous events up and down the county, concentrating on places where our rural communities gather. We attended the Great Yorkshire Show this year, and many Harrogate Advertiser readers will also have met us at Tockwith, Boroughbridge and Nidderdale. In addition, we frequent markets and sales, regularly attending Pateley Bridge Auction Centre and many more.
While at these events, we are able to talk to people from Harrogate’s rural community, listen to what is affecting them, and offer advice wherever possible – there have been hundreds of conversations over the year, and no doubt we’ll be having hundreds more in 2017.
We can use all the information from the community to carry out enforcement against those who offend in our rural areas. Since April, the Rural Taskforce has arrested 55 people for offences ranging from quad theft to illegal possession of firearms; reported 61 people for summons, for offences such as hare coursing and illegal poaching of fish; and seized over 25 vehicles, either as evidence of offences, or for no insurance or tax.
Responding to suspicious vehicles and seizing them is often the key to disrupting criminality – offenders need vehicles to travel to areas and commit crime. By actively targeting them, and using technology such as our ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) camera network, we can prevent crime before it happens.
This is a start for what is happening to target rural and wildlife crime in Harrogate and North Yorkshire as we continue to work with our colleagues, communities and partners.
Chief Constable, Dave Jones, has committed to this area of crime by taking on the national portfolio for rural affairs and wildlife crime, meaning we can influence other forces in their approach.
It is imperative that we listen to what our communities are telling us, and react to it – only through the information you provide can we police effectively, so call it!
Report information to the non-emergency 101 number. If an emergency response is required, always dial 999.