Thames Valley Police chief announces plans to double rural crime team

Police claim the recently formed team has recovered £5 million-worth of stolen items
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Thames Valley Police’s commissioner has announced a recruitment drive to double the size of the rural crime team.

Figures from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office show that £5 million-worth of stolen goods has been recovered by the team in just two years.

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Commissioner, Matthew Barber, plans to add another 10 members to the specialist crime team.

Commissioner Barber with members of the rural taskforceCommissioner Barber with members of the rural taskforce
Commissioner Barber with members of the rural taskforce

The Rural Crime Taskforce was launched in March 2022, and has officers and intelligence support within its squad to prevent rural crime.

Currently the team is made up of 10 officers, two sergeants and an inspector. Among the items recovered by the team are: vehicles,

drugs, plant machinery and tools. According to the PCC the taskforce has completed hundreds of investigations and spoke with hundreds of people about how to prevent rural thefts.

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Commissioner Barber said: “I am pleased to see the impact that the taskforce is already having. It demonstrates the importance of a dedicated, visible and robust policing response in tackling rural crime which I can see is making a real difference to the safety and security of farms, rural industries and our most isolated communities.

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“The vast geography of the Thames Valley and high proportion of rural areas will always be a challenge to delivering visible policing, but this additional investment will support the taskforce in strengthening its response in detecting and stopping criminal activity and organised crime groups operating in our rural communities.”

Rural Crime Taskforce lead Inspector Stuart Hutchings said: “We have been working extremely hard since the taskforce’s inception over two years ago to make the Thames Valley a hostile environment for rural criminals.

“The additional officers funded by the PCC will only help us to increase this work and support victims even more effectively.”

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A farmer’s union representative has supported the recruitment drive.

Nathan Boyd, NFU Berks, Bucks and Oxon County adviser, added: “In the last two years, farmers have seen the benefit of having a dedicated, specialist unit which has made a real difference to communities that often felt forgotten.

“This investment in the taskforce sends a clear message that tackling rural crime is a priority across the Thames Valley.”