Blog: How we're fighting back against rural crime, by Thames Valley Police inspector

Force's rural crime team officer discusses extra resources, forensics marking, serial numbers and more
Thames Valley Police meeting with the CLA and NFU II.jpg
Members of the Thames Valley Police team at a meeting with the CLA and NFU.

Thames Valley Police is one of the leading forces in the country when it comes to fighting rural crime, and the CLA is proud to work closely with it.

In this blog, Stuart 'Hutch' Hutchings, a police inspector and member of the force's Rural Crime Taskforce, updates CLA members on some of its recent work...


Over the last two years the Thames Valley Police Rural Crime Taskforce has gone from strength to strength, with seizures in excess of £5 million and a drop of rural crime across the Thames Valley. We know that the taskforce is rightly focused on those committing rural crime and delivering on our goal of creating a hostile environment for those that commit rural crime.

The PCC and Chief Constable, to build on this success, have secured funding to increase the resourcing on the Rural Crime Taskforce. We are in the process of recruiting an extra Sergeantt and 12 PCs. This will greatly increase our coverage across the whole of the Thames Valley and allow us to increase our focus on rural crime offenders.

In addition to these resources, we now have started a Thames Valley Police Rural Crime Special Taskforce, with dedicated Special Constables working alongside regular Taskforce officers. So far we have one Sergeant and 4 PCs, and moving forward we will be asking the CLA and NFU to help us promote this scheme.

We would like to recruit members of the rural community to join the Taskforce Specials and help protect our rural communities. For employers this offer them the opportunity to develop their staff and help them learn skills they wouldn’t necessarily gain in their day job. For employees this offers a unique opportunity to help them self-develop and give back to the local community.

'Treasure trove'

We are about to roll out a forensics marking operation across Oxfordshire. This is using SelectaDNA Rural Marking kits. Officers and police staff will be visiting 500 farms and installing forensic marking on the farmers' equipment. This will hopefully make the farm less attractive for offenders and help police identify recovered stolen items.

We ask all of our rural communities to record the serial numbers of all their tools and equipment. Last month, working with the Kent Rural Crime Team, we helped recover over £500,000 of stolen tools and equipment. Together we have recovered over 3,000 power tools of all shapes and sizes. We can only return this equipment by identifying them through serial numbers or forensic marking. We have already identified stolen tools from Thames Valley in this treasure trove.

Please report all incidents to the police, if it’s a crime in action phone 999. All other incidents 101 or online. If we aren’t told about suspicious persons or incidents, we can’t then add that into our patrols.

Lastly, to review security every 18 months, consider the use of movement sensors, trackers and CCTV. Ask yourself the question ‘If someone was walking about your farmyard at 4am, would you know?’

If the answer is no then it’s time to consider an upgrade to your security.