Lancashire Constabulary have kicked off a new campaign to combat rural crime with a week of high profile policing activity across the county.
Operation Firecrest has seen officers conducting extra patrols; targeting suspected offenders; making visits to farms and rural businesses to offer crime prevention advice; and hosting community meetings as well as providing a police presence at auction marts and other key locations.
In addition, specialist wildlife officers and representatives from the Environment Agency, United Utilities and other agencies have been carrying out enforcement activity including anti-poaching patrols and warrants.
Commenting on the campaign, Supt Richard Spedding from Lancashire Police said: “Nationally, there has been a marked increase in rural crime but fortunately, here in Lancashire, any increases in rural crime have been small and overall crime levels across the county are still low.
“However, any increase will clearly cause concern, particularly amongst communities who feel isolated like rural communities, which is why we are determined to take action.
“The most common type of offences in our rural communities include fuel and scrap metal theft as well as theft of agricultural machinery and offences like poaching and hare coursing.
“Our intention is to offer advice and reassurance to our rural communities to help prevent crime, to work with local communities to detect crime and of course, to target offenders and send a clear message to them that their behaviour is not acceptable and will most likely result in arrest”.
The campaign has been welcomed by local farmer Ally Weare from Gisburn. His family has been farming livestock for over 50 years and share national concerns about rural crime.
Ally said: “Fortunately we’ve not experienced any significant losses but we have had several sheep worried by poachers’ dogs and the farm and vehicles have suffered criminal damage.
“I welcome this new campaign and in particular the extra high visibility police presence which I think is essential to reassure farmers and to deter thieves”.