Dedicated Police unit for rural and agricultural crime for North Herts countryside communities and businesses
By Layth Yousif
7th Sep 2022 | Local News
Rural businesses and communities are being reminded that there is a dedicated police unit to tackle crime in the countryside.
The Rural Operational Support Team (ROST) have specialist skills, equipment and vehicles to address the concerns of those living in the more remote areas of Hertfordshire.
Addressing members of the Independent Business Advisory Group, set up by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, Sgt Ryan Hemmings explained the wide range of crime types they cover.
This includes farm and agricultural crime and theft of machinery; game sports and wildlife crime such as hare coursing and poaching; heritage crime including theft or damage to special sites; detecting victims in isolated rural locations of domestic violence, serious sexual offences, human trafficking and modern day slavery plus organised crime and smaller scale flytipping.
The team has a Polaris utility vehicle and quad bikes which can be deployed where conventional police vehicles cannot go. These are often called in to deal with hare coursing or when communities have reported nuisance motorbike users.
They also have a drone capability to enable them to search large areas quickly, and this was recently used to find and recover several stolen vehicles. Camouflaged wildlife cameras are also deployed to monitor crime hotspots.
The officers are also trained in animal control and the unit also has dedicated rural scenes of crime experts who attend thefts and burglaries.
One recent notable success has been against hare coursers following a seven force joint policy throughout Hertfordshire and neighbouring counties saw incidents fall by almost a third.
The borders between the counties, including Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Essex, were removed so tactics such as automatic number plate recognition, shared intelligence and dog seizures could be used to apprehend and prosecute offenders.
Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd said: "My fundamental responsibility is to represent the people and ensure that all our communities get a policing service which meets their needs.
"The ROST team are doing some great work and build trust and engagement with those rural groups which can feel isolated and alone."
Members of the public can contact ROST at [email protected] or you can report information about rural crime online at herts.police.uk/report, speak to an operator in our force communications room via their online web chat at herts.police.uk/contact or call the non-emergency number 101. If a crime is in progress, always dial 999.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner established IBAG so a range of businesses from sectors such as the rural community, retail, leisure, technology and professional services along with representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) can discuss key issues around business crime.
Sgt Hemmings said: "Many people may not see rural crime as a priority issue, but for those living in these communities, the impact of it can be absolutely devastating. We want to ensure that we are doing all we can to support our rural communities across the county, to make them feel safer, build relationships and to ultimately increase their confidence in us."