Following our recent virtual meeting with Avon and Somerset Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner, it is clear that it is very much business as usual for the Rural Crime Team across its force area, concentrating on tackling an increase in rural theft including livestock, machinery and oil.
The team, now fully up to strength, is already paying dividends with some notable successes recovering stolen plant and machinery as well as being able to support the rural population better by building links with the farming community.
Areas of concern
Poaching remains an issue with incidents being seen in the Mendips, across the Levels and the North Somerset area. Proactive patrols involving the force drone have been organised to better target areas where it is a problem. The CLA has resources available to help if you are experiencing poaching or coursing on your farms, so do not hesitate to get in touch.
Covid has had some impact on the policing of the county with officers facing new types of enforcement activity around compliance with regulations, protest activity but also trespass related issues on farms and even wild swimming.
A force lead has been appointed to deal with policing of hunts. CI Holt will control all the tools to police hunt related incidents, it is both a technical and emotive area of the law but the police do not want to see it spill into disorder from either side. If there is poor behaviour at hunts then it could end in criminal charges for public order offences or worse.
Policing of the badger cull has continued and Avon & Somerset share best practice with other force areas. Engagement with protest community saw a huge drop in nastier incidents of intimidation and harassment of farmers and cull operatives but nonetheless over 1000 incidents were reported and significant arrests were made of individuals who crossed the line into criminality.
There are continued concerns that rural businesses are not reporting incidents and we would urge any members to report any crime, even if it gets replaced by the insurance company.
This helps create a true picture of the scale of rural criminality, it also irritates the police when they have to return items they believe have been pinched to the perpetrators because of a lack of evidence.
We know that farmers are busy but so are rural criminals so making sure that you have photographs of the serial numbers & distinctive marks on farm vehicles, tools and equipment can mean you are reunited with your items. If you spot something that doesn’t look right in your local area, the chances are it isn’t and by taking a minute to report it online or mentioning it to local policing team could add valuable intelligence to the overall investigation.
Who to call and when?
If a crime is in progress, call 999
Dial 101 if a crime has taken place or to report suspicious activity
Check if your force area has online reporting for non-emergency activity.