Waste operators, dog walkers, garages and anglers were all targeted by Sussex Police as part of their rural crime day of action on Thursday last week (November 8).
Officers were joined by people from the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust, along with Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne and Chichester MP Gillian Keegan.
We know that rural crime is under-reported and we need to ensure that those living and working out in the countryside are encouraged to keep us in touch with their needs.
Eight waste disposal vehicles were stopped and their waste licences checked; two have been reported for further investigation.
Numerous local garages were visited to highlight their responsibilities around tyre disposal and a potential illegal waste site was attended in the Chichester area.
Further enquiries are being made in relation to this.
Dog walker engagement events were held at Worthing, Horsham and Brighton, with officers speaking to dog owners and ramblers about responsible dog ownership and the importance of reporting suspicious activity in the countryside, highlighting the new Sussex Countrywatch campaign.
On the river bank, ten anglers were spoken to in the Lewes area.
All were properly licensed and were encouraged to become the Angling Trust’s ‘eyes and ears’ in the countryside, looking out for illegal activities around the county’s waterways.
Heritage crime was also highlighted, with visits to three scrapyards to raise awareness of stolen lead and other materials; three museums to discuss arts, antiquities and cultural property; along with three heritage sites and five churches to review their crime prevention arrangements.
Superintendent Emma Brice, Sussex Police lead for rural, wildlife, heritage and environment crime said: “Dealing with rural crime is as important to us as any other and working in partnership with other agencies allows us to collectively respond to the needs of our rural communities to make our rural communities safer.
“We know that rural crime is under-reported and we need to ensure that those living and working out in the countryside are encouraged to keep us in touch with their needs.
“The launch of Sussex Countrywatch is key to helping those within our rural communities feel connected. By offering two way communication, keeping people informed and providing sound crime prevention advice, we aim to strengthen rural policing and increase public confidence in the services we provide.”
Sussex PCC Katy Bourne, who joined wildlife crime officer Sergeant Tom Carter and PCSOs at Stanmer Park, Brighton, said: “In a county like Sussex, rural crime remains a priority so I spent the morning encouraging people to sign up to Sussex Countrywatch, to receive regular updates straight into their email account from police and partner agencies on the latest rural matters. We need to create a network of eyes and ears in rural communities that feed directly back to the police.
“I remain strongly committed to ensuring that crimes occurring in our rural communities are taken as seriously as those in urban areas around the county and that these residents feel that they too have a voice. With this in mind, in January, my team will be holding a discussion on rural crime in Battle as part of a series of targeted community engagements across the county.”
The Country Landowners’ Association welcomed the initiative. CLA South East Regional Director Robin Edwards said: “The CLA is delighted that Sussex Police is getting involved and taking it so seriously.
“From hare coursing to farm machinery theft, rural crime deeply affects those who live and work in the countryside, and deserves to be a top priority. We already work closely with Sussex Police and look forward to continuing our relationship in the future.”