Five police forces covering 6,500 square miles of northern England came together last night in the largest rural policing operation of its kind.
Dozens of officers and volunteers from Cleveland, Durham, Lancashire, Northumbria and North Yorkshire took part in Operation Checkpoint, targeting criminals who use road networks to offend in rural areas, and providing reassurance and crime prevention advice to residents.
Operation Checkpoint aims to gather intelligence on cross-border offenders, as well as provide high-visibility reassurance to local communities, and prevent and disrupt criminal activity through intelligence-led patrols and the use of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) network. Officers conducted numerous reassurance patrols, and proactive crime prevention visits to farms and other rural businesses, in the run up to and during the enforcement phase of the operation.
The NPCC Rural Affairs Strategy, launched at an event in Harrogate in July, identified that organised crime groups target rural communities across a range of crime types – including farm machinery, plant and vehicle (FMPV) theft; livestock theft; and poaching. Rural areas are perceived as ‘soft targets’, with criminals using minor roads and travelling long distances to reduce the chance of detection.
The police operation ran throughout the day on Thursday 6 September into the early hours of Friday 7 September, with each force providing officers and specialist resources for their own areas.
Officers and PCSOs from the Rural Taskforce worked alongside Road Policing Group officers, Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Special Constables. They were joined by Mobile Rural Watch volunteers, who worked alongside police to identify suspicious vehicles and potential offenders.
In total, there were over a hundred stop checks conducted between Forces, resulting in 15 searches, three vehicles seized, and one arrest for theft in the Cleveland area. Numerous pieces of intelligence were submitted, gathered from interaction with rural communities, and more than 50 farms were visited to offer reassurance and crime prevention advice.
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “Operation Checkpoint is a joined-up way to work together as a Force, with partners, volunteers and other Forces to tackle rural crime. It is important we send out a clear message to our local communities that we are supporting them and we are working hard to keep our rural areas safe. I attended the briefing last night before what was the 19th operation we have supported in Cleveland
“Overall this shows criminals we will not tolerate offending and we will continue to make progress and make our rural areas safer for the future. Thank you to everyone who was involved in the operation and well done!”
Crime Prevention Coordinator Paul Payne said: "I would like to thank all our rural communities who continue to help us tackle rural crime as without the joint effort we wouldn’t have made the progress we have in the past 18 months. We will continue to tackle the important issues that affect the rural communities and by working together we can and will make a difference".
Posted on Friday 7th September 2018