Wiltshire PCC elected to represent south west PCCs on national rural crime
Rural communities’ safety – and ensuring enough is done to truly understand the impact rural crime has on those affected - has always been a key priority for Wiltshire’s police and crime commissioner.
PCC Philip Wilkinson has been relentless in driving investment to Wiltshire Police’s Rural Crime Team - in terms of state-of-the art drone and night vision capability, alongside extra vehicles and more resource for the team - has been delivered through precept investment since he took office in August 2021.
Mr Wilkinson was also one of a handful of PCCs across the country to ensure Heritage Crime, alongside wildlife crime, was included specifically within the priorities of his police and crime plan.
Just last month, he – along with his four other south west PCCs – introduced and supported their respective forces by leading a regional, co-ordinated campaign to further tackle rural crime across the region.
The new initiative, called Operation Ragwort, will focus on disrupting Organised Crime Groups who target rural communities and are at the forefront of crimes such as burglary, high-value theft of farm vehicles and equipment, poaching and hare coursing.
In his latest commitment to tackling rural crime, Mr Wilkinson has been elected to represent the five south west Police and Crime Commissioners on the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) board today (20/10) to ensure he is a voice for the region's rural communities.
Mr Wilkinson said: "Rural crime, tackling it and ensuring all of our communities are provided with a quality, effective, policing service has always been a key priority to me. This is why I am really pleased to take up the national board position, working alongside many other commissioners and key stakeholders to see greater recognition and understanding of the problems and impact of crime in rural areas so more can be done to keep people safer.
"Now I will be able to ensure that our south west rural communities' concerns are championed at the highest level. At a national level I believe more can be done to prevent the export of stolen agricultural equipment through UK ports and I intend to join the national lobby to introduce legislation that will force the manufacturers of agricultural equipment, quad bikes and all-terrain vehicles to be fitted with the latest tracking devices.
"Farmers and people who live in rural communities constantly tell me how fed up they are with the high-value thefts of equipment, of the destruction of land and crops and feeling unsafe in their own homes during seasonal criminal activity. We should also absolutely protect our designated heritage sites from destruction - criminals do not care if our heritage is lost or destroyed.
"Both the Chief Constable and I are committed to driving all criminal, and illegal activity, in Wiltshire to ground. Just as we focus on making Wiltshire a hostile place for drugs gangs and knife crime, we will ensure that our county is even more hostile to those rural criminal gangs.
"Operation Ragwort, and bringing together our regions' police and crime commissioners and respective forces will be key to this.
“I want to help build the capacity of police forces across the south of England - not just in the south-west - in order to better understand the network of these organised criminal groups so that we can engage more proactively in enforcement and disruption operations when the intelligence and evidences allows.”