Arrests in Ribble Valley rural crime blitz

This is a Farm Watch area - sign of the times in rural communities.
This is a Farm Watch area - sign of the times in rural communities.

A four-night operation to combat rural crime in the Ribble Valley has been hailed a success.

Police officers joined forces with representatives from Ribble Valley Borough Council as part of “Operation Firecrest” to prevent and detect rural crime.

There were a number of arrests and a significant amount of farm tools were recovered.

Officers involved in the initiative locally were Clitheroe’s Sgt Dave Simpson, PCSO Matt Thornton, ECSO Karl Elliott who teamed up with Coun. Richard Sherras and Bill Alker, community development officer for the borough council.

The operation was supported by Lancashire Constabulary’s “In the Know” message system, which consists of Farm Watch, Rural Watch, Horse Watch and Plant Watch. The system sends out targeted messages via e-mail, phone or SMS alerts about crimes and problems to members who have signed up in rural communities in the Ribble Valley.

A police spokesman said: “Using the various Watch schemes has helped massively to connect with farmers and increase face-to-face engagement with them in the fight against 
rural crime.

“In addition to this, intelligence gained from the public via the Watch schemes has helped Lancashire Constabulary to catch a number of criminals involved in farm and rural-related crime ranging from the theft of quad bikes, crimes against animals to the theft of farm machinery, fuel and metal.”

Despite the success, Insp. Hassan Khan, of Clitheroe Police, is warning that the fight against rural crime will continue.

“People in rural communities are a special group as they are often isolated and hard to reach. Our Watch initiatives help to breakdown those barriers and provides us with another weapon in the police’s arsenal to tackle rural crime.

“I hope it has sent a clear message to people involved in rural crime that both police and communities will not tolerate this type of behaviour and will work together to identify those involved and bring them to justice.

“We will continue to focus our activities on those criminals who persistently target rural areas so that we can reduce even further the number of victims affected by these crimes.”