Back in 2019 when I first started working for the CLA I was tasked with contacting police forces across the region to establish their resources and approach to rural crime. Whilst Leicestershire police responded to the survey, the CLA had had relatively little involvement with them either prior to the survey or since, and no regular contact was known to us to be able to raise issues.
It was great, pre-Christmas 2022, to be invited to their first Rural, Wildlife and Heritage Policing Hub meeting. Although we weren’t able to send a representative to the first meeting, I did attend the second meeting held just over a week ago.
The agenda was well thought out and there were some interesting presentations on heritage crime and fly-grazing. Present at the meeting were representatives from ourselves, NFU and each MPA had representation from their community safety partnership. There was a real enthusiasm for working together to do what we can to tackle rural crime.
The rural policing team numbers approximately 6 officers and is led by Inspector Neil Whittle and Sergeant Paul Archer. So far in 2023 they have completed 200 farm visits to support rural communities.
It was particularly interesting to see a good amount of time given to discussing fly-tipping. An issue for a lot of CLA members, but which often falls between the gap of any external support for landowners. It was great to see this on the agenda and everyone committed to adopting a pragmatic and supportive approach.
Leicestershire has seen some particular issues associated with the Cottesmore hunt and the police are carrying out a review of their operational policing activity in relation to this. The review will include talking to hunt, anti-hunt groups and landowners, and they are keen to improve how they work with rural communities and learn from past events.
The hub meetings are currently planned quarterly, please contact Midlands Rural Adviser Helen Dale on 01785 337010 for further information.