Thames Valley crime team strengthened

11 April 2024

A group of people standing in front of a police vehicle

Members of Thames Valley rural crime team with BBO county adviser Nathan Boyd (r) and deputy chair Richard Heady.

The NFU has welcomed Thames Valley Police’s announcement that it intends to add 10 more officers to its Rural Crime Taskforce.

This expansion will see the taskforce almost double in size, making it one of the biggest rural crime teams in the country.

It is currently made up of 10 officers, two sergeants and an inspector. Since its launch in 2022, the taskforce has seized more than £5 million worth of property, including vehicles, drugs, plant machinery and tools.

Consistent, coordinated response needed

NFU South regional director Mel Squires said: “We want to see a consistent and coordinated response to rural crime across government and police forces, including fair funding for rural policing and a dedicated rural crime team in every police force in the country.

“This expansion and dedication of funding within Thames Valley Police is a positive step in that direction, showing their commitment to tackling rural crime and protecting our farmers, and I look forward to seeing more police forces across the South follow in their footsteps.”

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.”

Any increase welcome

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire (BBO) NFU deputy chair Richard Heady, who has experienced hare coursing and theft on numerous occasions on his 420-acre family farm near Milton Keynes, said that any increase in spending and the amount of police on the ground was welcome.

He said: “I think by having extra officers on the ground and making Thames Valley hostile to thieves and people with malicious intent, it is going to help people feel a lot safer and allow them to get on with their own work.

“When we are working on our own and at night on our own farm, you ought to feel safe. Nobody should feel scared on their own premises.”

BBO deputy chair Richard Heady

“We’ve seen a drop in hare coursers over the last couple of years since the taskforce has been in place, so we are really hoping that the expanded team can build on the current success.

“We hope to see a complete stop to hare coursers in the area and that people can start to feel safer in their own farmyards.”

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