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All eyes on rural areas as police keep up pressure on criminals

Last modified: 1 October 2020 at 01:08pm

Nearly 100 pairs of eyes were on the lookout in North Yorkshire last night, as part of a police operation to clamp down on rural crime.

Focusing on Hambleton, Richmondshire, northern parts of Craven and Ryedale, the A1 in Harrogate, and the A171 Moor Road corridor near Whitby, the operation aimed to ensure criminals could not prey on the county’s rural communities undetected.

From the evening of Wednesday 30 September 2020, into the early hours of this morning, 43 officers from North Yorkshire Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Rural Taskforce joined 51 Rural Watch volunteers on patrol as part of Operation Checkpoint.

Eighty-five per cent of North Yorkshire is classed as very rural or super-sparse, with a population density five times below the national average – highlighting the importance of information about suspicious activity from members of the public who know their local areas.

Operation Checkpoint aims to ensure these rural communities are ‘no-go areas’ for criminals.

Overnight, officers in North Yorkshire checked more than 80 vehicles, and carried out police checks on more than 20 people to ensure everything was in order. Those deterred by the operation included a group of suspected poachers in the Castleton area.

North Yorkshire Police co-ordinated with colleagues in Cleveland, Durham, Cumbria, Lancashire and Northumbria to provide high-visibility crime-fighting coverage across the North of England.

Sergeant Stuart Grainger, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “All of us were policing the rural area, looking for cross-border thieves, fly-tippers, poachers, and drink drivers. We were supported by an excellent number of volunteer Rural Watch members, who worked into the early hours.”

Mobile Rural Watches operate across the North Yorkshire countryside, supporting the force’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Rural Taskforce. 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.

To find out more about Rural Watch schemes elsewhere in North Yorkshire, contact your local Neighbourhood Policing Team, or Rural Taskforce officer, by dialling 101.

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