PCC marks National Rural Crime Action Week by focusing on tackling organised crime groups
PCC Philip Wilkinson says progress has been made but more needs to be done to tackle agricultural thefts by organised crime groups (OCGs) as PCCs and their respective forces across the country mark National Rural Crime Action Week.
In Wiltshire, the Rural Crime Team cover all heritage and wildlife crime including theft of livestock and machinery, fly tipping, poaching and hare coursing to name a few. However, we are seeing OCGs increasingly engaged in rural acquisitive crime, including burglary and the theft of farm vehicles and equipment.
Mr Wilkinson said: “When I took over two years ago, I doubled the size of the rural crime team and gave them specialist equipment and more appropriate vehicles, including a night vision capability and drones.
“However, we need to further build our capability to tackle those organised crime groups (OCG) engaged in acquisitive rural crime, not only in Wiltshire but further afield. I want to help build the capacity of police forces across the south of England - not just in the South West - by working collaboratively with our neighbouring forces and blurring the lines between county borders.
“This will enable us to better understand the networking of these OCGs so that we can engage more proactively in enforcement, interdiction and disruption operations when the intelligence and evidence allows.”
The National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) has commissioned research into this link between rural crime and organised criminal gangs, and preliminary evidence suggests that rural crime is being used by gangs to fund other criminal activities including links to the international drugs trade.
In June, PCCs across the South West came together to launch the Rural Crime Survey to explore how crime is affecting rural communities.
The survey asks rural residents if they have been the victim of any crimes in the last 12 months as well as asking what rural crimes concern them the most.