North Yorkshire Police hail support of Rural Watch volunteers

Police in North Yorkshire have paid tribute to the more than 140 volunteers who help keep rural areas safe.

Thursday, 4th June 2020, 12:30 pm
PCSO Emily Hewitson with Grassington Mobile Rural Watch volunteers.
PCSO Emily Hewitson with Grassington Mobile Rural Watch volunteers.

North Yorkshire Police is taking the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to all its volunteers this National Volunteers Week, which runs until Sunday.

Of the force’s 509 volunteers, 142 serve their communities as Rural Watch volunteers.

They assist in the running and administration of Mobile Rural Watch (MRW) groups, supported by hundreds more members of the public.

Groups are made up of farmers, landowners, gamekeepers, rural business and estate owners, as well as anyone who lives or works in a rural area.

They support North Yorkshire Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Rural Taskforce, acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police in the fight against countryside crime.

The groups communicate with each other via phone and WhatsApp, supported by North Yorkshire Police officers and PCSOs.

There are now 25 such groups, representing more than 1,000 members of the public right across the county.

Sgt Heidi Lewis, of North Yorkshire Police’s Partnership Hub, said: “We are extremely grateful for the invaluable support of our Rural Watch volunteers, and all the members of the public who help us to keep our rural communities safe.”

Information and intelligence passed to the police by Mobile Rural Watches has resulted in:

* Countless reports of suspicious vehicle activity, which has led to further development of intelligence and supported investigations into criminal activity

* Cross-border information sharing and targeted patrols with West Yorkshire, Humberside, Cleveland, Durham and Lancashire

* Dealing successfully with some off-road motorcyclists who flout restrictions in national parks

* The arrest of suspects involved in acquisitive crime such as quad bike thefts – and the successful recovery of suspected stolen quads

* A significant number of poaching offences dealt with by the seizure of dogs, vehicles and subsequent reports for summons.

Sgt Lewis added: “The list goes on – the successes have been phenomenal and too many to list.

"North Yorkshire Police could not have achieved all this without the dedication of our Mobile Rural Watch schemes, and we are so thankful for their continued support and dedication.”

Rural Watch volunteers have also proved invaluable throughout the coronavirus pandemic, to reassure residents and businesses in isolated areas, and help officers and PCSOs engage with rural communities, and keep up the pressure on criminals.

Chief Constable Lisa Winward, who is the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for Citizens in Policing, said: “I am immensely proud of all our volunteers.

"So, on behalf of the force and our communities, I would like to say a big thank you to each and every one of you, for your continued passion, contribution and commitment.”

To find out more about Mobile Rural Watch, or to join a group, contact North Yorkshire Police and speak to your local Neighbourhood Policing Team or Rural Taskforce officer.

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