Police and other bodies have officially launched a partnership initiative to tackle rural crime in Northumberland.
The steering group, made up of organisations which are committed to working together to focus on rural crime, includes the National Farmers Union (NFU) – with county chairman Hugh Richardson chairing the launch meeting, the Forestry Commission, Northumberland National Parks, Angling Trust, National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO), Countryside Landowners Association, Northumberland County Council and Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service.
Superintendent Andy Huddleston said: “We already work closely with our rural communities here in Northumberland to prevent crime, but I feel this meeting has been an excellent step forward in getting a wide range of representatives from organisations who work in the county around the table.
“In particular, we believe those organisations with members whose livelihoods often depend on the rural economy need to have a strong input on how we tackle crime and issues which directly affect them.
“Our crime priorities are working with rural communities to prevent crime; helping to reduce thefts of machinery and farming equipment; and tackling travelling criminals targeting rural areas. By focusing on these three key areas we aim to keep Northumberland one of the safest places to live and work.
“I was very impressed by the commitment shown by our partners at the meeting, who expressed their enthusiasm to work together to deal with these important issues.”
The group discussed crime-prevention tactics to stop thefts of quad bikes, farm machinery and fuel. It also talked about current poaching issues and what’s being done.
Mr Richardson said: “Rural crime continues to affect farmers across the county.
“We are pleased that the police are raising the profile of rural crime and working with other organisations to tackle the issue.
“The priority going forward must be to see police action on the ground and farmers must also take responsibility for reporting all crimes that are committed in order to help the police accurately monitor the levels in each area. We are looking forward to working with the police over the coming months.”
The partnership approach to work with the rural community has been a mainstay of policing across the county over several years. The force regularly carries out Operation Checkpoint with other forces to tackle travelling criminals and works closely with volunteers accompanying officers while stopping and checking vehicles coming into Northumberland.
Northumberland also has a growing Farmwatch network which regularly passes on information about suspicious vehicles and thefts of farming equipment to alert farmers to emerging problems and to provide crime prevention advice to the wider rural community.
For further crime prevention advice, visit the rural and farm crime page on the Northumbria Police website .