Rural and wildlife crime in the spotlight across North Yorkshire as police pledge week of action

PCSO Sally Breen giving quad bike crime prevention advice at a farm near Skipton.
PCSO Sally Breen giving quad bike crime prevention advice at a farm near Skipton.

A major police operation will target rural and wildlife crime in North Yorkshire – part of a national campaign running throughout this week.

As part of the national Wildlife and Rural Crime Week of Action, police resources, including volunteers, will focus on the key issues that affect rural areas.

Insp Kevin Kelly with a badger that was detached from its mum and was subsequently rehabilitated

Insp Kevin Kelly with a badger that was detached from its mum and was subsequently rehabilitated

Officers from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce will work alongside the force’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams, and other specialist resources.

They will also be joined by volunteers from Mobile Rural Watch schemes, and staff from partnership agencies.

The week-long campaign, which is co-ordinated by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, runs until October 13 and follows the success of a ‘rural crime day of action’ in 2018.

The week of action got under way with a major police operation spanning the north of England on Sunday, when hundreds of officers and volunteers took part in Operation Checkpoint, the largest operation of its kind in the country.

Rural Taskforce PCSOs on patrol.

Rural Taskforce PCSOs on patrol.

The forces involved in Checkpoint share intelligence and information and patrol across force boundaries to target criminals, disrupting their use of the road network in rural areas and bringing anyone found breaking the law to justice.

Sunday also saw North Yorkshire Police mark National Badger Day 2019, with the publication of a newsletter and social media activity to raise awareness of badger persecution.

Insp Kevin Kelly, from North Yorkshire Police, is National Chair of the Badger Persecution Priority Delivery Group, part of the UK’s National Wildlife Crime Unit.

Throughout the week, officers will be patrolling and conducting proactive operations in rural North Yorkshire, including:

Operation Galileo – An operation to disrupt illegal poaching, such as hare coursing. There is typically an increase in poaching offences in October, after crops have been harvested, and fields are left empty and open. Officers work closely with other forces, identifying and dealing with suspect vehicles previously linked to poaching.

Operation Dusk – A proactive operation in the Selby district, targeting criminals who travel into rural areas of North Yorkshire from neighbouring regions.

Operation Harvester – Under this operation, hundreds of volunteers operate Mobile Rural Watches across the North Yorkshire countryside. Volunteers use their own vehicles, and are equipped with police radios so they can communicate with officers. By drawing on the expert local knowledge of the volunteers, any suspicious activity or vehicles can be checked out in real time.

Police will be working alongside partner agencies such as Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust to keep North Yorkshire’s countryside and wildlife protected.

Insp Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “The NPCC’s Wildlife and Rural Crime Week of Action is a good opportunity to highlight the impact of rural crime on our communities, and the action that we are taking to tackle it.

“We know all too well the effect that crime can have on the livelihoods and wellbeing of rural residents, which is why it remains a top priority for us.

“Our activities this week are a reflection of the hard work of officers, staff and volunteers that goes on day-in, day-out across North Yorkshire. However, I hope the clear message and focus of this week of action will send out a clear message that criminals are not welcome in our rural communities.”

In its most recent inspection of North Yorkshire Police published in September 2019, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that: tackling rural crime was given high priority, following a consultation that highlighted public concern.