The South Rural Taskforce covers the areas of Chorley, South Ribble, Preston, and West Lancashire and comprises four officers, PC Stewart, PC Dalby, PC Williams, and PC Levitt. The team has only been established since March 2021 and in its short time has already achieved a long list of successes within the rural community, including seizing 61 animals exposed to cruelty and neglect, recovering 173 stolen vehicles and plant equipment, security marked in excess of £800,000 of equipment, prosecuted 98 offenders and conducted 74 occasions of partnership work.
The Rob Oliver Award – for excellence in the fight against construction plant and agricultural machinery theft, was recognised due to the team conducting more plant machinery checks and seizures than any other force in the UK.
Superintendent Gary Crowe of Lancashire Police said: “I’m incredibly proud of the team and their achievements to date in such a short time. These figures are testament to the commitment, dedication and hard work they all put in and they are all clearly passionate about their job and that comes across in the work that they do.”
The award was attended by Superintendent Andy Huddleston, who is the NPCC national lead for agricultural machinery and plant theft. He added: “Rural crime is responsible for £17m agricultural crimes a year and £4-8m crimes within construction. This in turn has an impact on the cost of food and on businesses. I’m delighted to have been involved in presenting this award and want to congratulate the whole team and Lancashire Police for the outstanding work they’ve done and encouraging people to use security on their machinery.”
Rob Oliver, Director CEE Ltd added: “What a fantastic impact the new team has made. Their work in combating construction equipment theft has already been phenomenal. It’s also very good to know that the CESAR programme has already proved a winner for them. I would like to thank the team for all of their efforts and congratulate them on winning the award.”
CESAR, powered by Datatag, and owned by the CEA (Construction Equipment Association), can be fitted to any construction or agriculture machine that is at risk of theft. The tamper-evident label acts as an initial deterrent and the multiple layers of technology help to identify the machine. All the owner and machine details are stored on the CESAR secure database for police to double-check any machine quickly and easily. For more information visit https://www.cesarscheme.org
Andrew Snowden, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner said: “I joined the South Rural Taskforce on a shift, where we visited some hotspots for rural crime, discussed the issues they were dealing with and how I can best support them as Commissioner. Their commitment to protecting the area they serve and ensuring criminals understand that our rural areas are protecting was really impressive and this recognition is well deserved.
“It is heartening to see the impact that the rural taskforces are having by being dedicated to serving rural communities and addressing their unique policing needs. I am determined to build on this progress as I develop my Police and Crime Plan and look at future investment into rural policing.
“This is all part of my commitment to the people of Lancashire that all of Lancashire’s areas and communities, from more rural areas to our largest cities, feel protected. I will be working closely with the Chief Constable on the issues that matter to people, such as anti-social behaviour and getting tough on reoffending, as I lead the fight against crime in Lancashire.”