Rural Crime Team awarded Team of the Year at UK wildlife conference
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Cheshire’s Rural Crime Team (RCT) have come away with the Team of the Year Award at the 2023 UK Rural and Wildlife Conference.
Cheshire’s Rural Crime Team were commended for their efforts in tackling rural, wildlife, heritage and waste crime across the county and the region at the recent UK Rural and Wildlife Conference.
Since its inception in October 2019, the RCT has made a dramatic impact in removing rural crime from the county and building public confidence whilst tackling some incredibly complex investigations.
The proactive team often organise operations in areas of policing that, traditionally, go unchallenged.
Under the recent Operation Permits, the team worked alongside Chester & Cheshire West in irradiating fly-tipping within our communities, so much so the county has now seen a 50% reduction of fly-tipping incidents across the west. Rural Crime now routinely works with Angling Trust to police sections of the county’s rivers, which too have seen a significant reduction in offences and anti-social behaviour.
At Rural and Wildlife Conference, the team were particularly praised for their work in recovering stolen stone from churches across the region and bringing the offenders to justice in December 2022.
In this case, three males, their fleet of stolen vans and even the location the stone was being transported to were identified by the Rural Crime Team– who had utilised support from four other forces and specialist help from Historic England – shutting down their entire operation in one fell swoop.
It was this incredible example of proactive policing that led to the ringleader of the group receiving a custodial sentence of over two years and their accomplices receiving a similar punishment. Furthermore, at the sentencing, the lead officer was commended by the Judge as having investigated the matter superbly.
More recently, the RCT has launched Operation Recall, a national campaign which looks to challenge livestock worrying. Lead by a member of the RCT, Cheshire Police has partnered with the RSPCA and Naturewatch Foundation in creating the initiative which aims to raise awareness of the impact of livestock worrying and prevent future incidents.
This scheme is unique to Cheshire with our officers first rolling out the initiative on a local level, but now, with the support of the newly established National Rural Crime Unit, the aim is for police forces nationally to take it onboard. As part of the scheme, educational material has been produced to encourage the public to make a commitment to the cause and think about the consequences that livestock worrying can have for all those involved.
The team continues to take on cases that are regional and national, as their ethos is very much about making rural crime a hostile option for criminals and because they understand that if they commit crime in Cheshire, they will commit crime in other rural areas.
Sergeant Rob Simpson, Rural Crime Unit, said:
"Cheshire’s Rural Crime Team was one of the first in the UK and we are beyond proud of all the work the team does representing the force on a regional and national scale.
“We incredibly honoured to be awarded the title of Team of the Year at the Rural and Wildlife Conference; but we couldn't have achieved the results we have without the fantastic support of our senior command team, our PCC, partner agencies and the rural communities themselves.
“This award is also testament to the hard work the amazingly dedicated and driven Rural Crime officers have put in over the last twelve months. These officers will frequently work unsociable hours, adapting their shifts and come up with novel ideas to target criminals and making the county safer for all who live in it."
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, said:
"Our Rural Crime Team works closely alongside our communities to keep Cheshire's rural areas safe, so this great result is well and truly deserved.
"The team is committed to preventing rural crime, making Cheshire a hostile environment for criminals and reassuring the public.
"This includes the recent launching of Operation Recall - an operation spearheaded by our own Rural Crime Team - that has taken a local Cheshire-based initiative designed to raise awareness surrounding livestock worrying - and brought it to the national stage."
If you have any concerns about rural crime in your area, please report them via: https://www.cheshire.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/soh/seen-or-heard/
John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said:
"This is a fantastic achievement for the team and an extremely well deserved award. The officers are truly dedicated to protecting Cheshire's rural communities and consistently prove that our county is a hostile place for rural crime.
"I'd like to thank the Rural Crime Team for their hard work and commitment, which without a doubt makes Cheshire an even safer place."