Northumbria Police lands ‘first of its kind’ funding to prioritise fighting rural crime

Northumbria Police has become the first force in the country to be awarded Safer Streets funding specifically to fight rural crime and is launching a new Northumbria Partnership Against Rural Crime to kick-start plans.

More than £250,000 in funding secured by Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness’s office has meant plans to tackle rural crime and make people feel safer across the region are now underway.

A new package of rural policing plans that involve encouraging reporting, working with others to prevent crime and targeted activity to pursue offenders will be rolled out. Plans also include new technologies covering number plate recognition and thermal imaging as well as research and practical crime prevention tools.

The enhanced crime prevention activity will be delivered with the support of Northumberland Council, Farmwatch, Northumberland Fire and Rescue, Northumberland National Park and Mountain Rescue Team, and Forestry England.

The plans mean 2023 is off to a promising start for Northumbria Police’s Rural Policing Team and it’s hoped the new police activity will build on what was a successful year for the team that has recovered more than £1million of stolen farming vehicles and equipment since its launch in 2020.

Addressing the force’s commitment to the serious impact crime can have on farmers and their families as well as others who live in our more isolated communities, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness said: “Wherever I go in the country Northumbria Police is often cited for best practice and is praised for leading the way with its work to tackle rural crime. The fact that we were the only force area to apply for this funding specifically with our rural communities in mind shows just how important these communities are to us.

“We may be known for rolling out some of the best rural policing operations in the country but there is always more that officers want to be doing to clamp down on criminal activity and protect our more isolated neighbourhoods.

“It’s vital that officers have the tools to do the job and there are some big plans in the pipeline to improve the technology around data gathering and intelligence sharing with other members of our countryside communities who work hard alongside our policing teams to keep the area safe and fight crime.

“Really stepping up efforts in our area is very much a joint effort – I don’t know of any other rural partnerships supported by such significant funding. There really is such a strong commitment to making sure rural policing is certainly not something that’s overlooked and I hope it will make people feel and be safer in the Northumberland area.”

Inspector Garry Neill, of Northumbria Police’s Rural Policing Team, said: “Tackling rural crime is a real priority for the Force and this funding can help us build on the significant work already underway.

“The team are passionate about protecting our most remote communities and we have seen some significant results over the last year – with a number of offenders brought to justice and huge amounts of stolen equipment recovered.

“We run dedicated operations throughout the year to hit criminals hard and make our rural communities feel safe. This funding will help us continue that – using new innovative tactics – and make a real difference in our fight against rural crime.

“I would like to thank everyone who continues to play their part, especially our Rural Crime Volunteers whose contribution is invaluable. By working together, we can continue to protect our rural communities and bring justice against offenders.”