A new Rural Task Force dedicated to preventing and detecting crime in our rural communities has been officially launched by Kent Police.
The new unit was introduced by the Chief Constable Alan Pughsley, Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes and Michael Bax, Chairman of the Crime Rural Action Group at the Kent Rural Crime Conference on Wednesday 29 October.
It brings together officers from the Gypsy Liaison Team and the award-winning Rural Liaison Team into one coordinated unit.
The launch forms part of Kent Policeâ€™s new Rural Crime Strategy which was unveiled at the conference to community members.
The Rural Task Force will be focused on directly targeting those who cause harm to rural communities and listening to people who live there and will consist of officers, specially-trained to deal with wildlife crime such as hare coursing and poaching.
As well as investigating rural crime, the team will also carry out pre-planned activities such as the recent Operation Nonagon alongside partner agencies including Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Kent County Council.
Op Nonagon was held on 17 September and was a targeted operation involving more than 90 officers. As a result, two men were arrested during warrants in Dover and Boughton-under-Blean near Faversham for theft offences, another man was arrested for failing to stop and driving a stolen vehicle in Thanet, a stolen caravan in Hartlip was returned to its rightful owner and a number of driving offences were detected at stop checks in High Halden.
The strong relationship between Kent Police and the rural communities it serves gained national recognition on 9 October when the Rural Liaison Team received the Country Crime Fighters award at a ceremony organised by insurance company NFU Mutual.
Kent Police Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said: â€˜By forming the Rural Task Force we are making the best use of our resources in a dedicated unit so we can effectively tackle rural crime and antisocial behaviour.
â€˜The new task force will work alongside members of the rural community, partner agencies, the National Farmersâ€™ Union, the Country Land and Business Association and other stakeholders as well as build on the great achievements by the Rural Liaison Team and the Gypsy Liaison Team.
â€˜Iâ€™m pleased to be launching the new Rural Task Force alongside the Commissioner and we look forward to seeing its many successes.â€™
Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes said: â€˜Like many people in Kent I live in a rural community â€“ and â€“ like many people in Kent I know that the countryside can be both idyllic and also quite isolating and daunting.
â€˜Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s vital that every community in Kent gets the best possible policing service that we can afford and why I am delighted that we are launching the Kent Rural Task Force. The officers have already made great inroads into working with the rural community and we are seeing excellent results that they are able to achieve as a team.
â€˜I am also pleased that so many representatives of our rural community are attending our rural conference on Wednesday (29 October). When budgets are being cut all around, it is very important that we work together with our partners to make sure we are not duplicating what is being done and we are achieving the best possible results from the service we are giving.â€™