NORTH Yorkshire Police are hoping to build on the success of the Country Watch scheme by encouraging more people to join the fight against rural crime.
Farmers and residents of rural communities can be a vital resource to the police, acting as an extra pair of ‘eyes and ears’ in the effort to safeguard property and equipment.
People who live in the countryside know what is the norm and if they see any suspicious vehicles or people then they should be
Sgt Simon Williamson - North Yorkshire Police
Country Watch members have been involved in patrolling local areas as a joint operation with police, looking out for any suspicious activity and providing visibility to help deter potential offenders.
The scheme, which currently has 31 members, is evolving and now incorporates an updated version of the Ringmaster service - a two-way communication link between members and the police warning of any suspicious activity.
The service has now been extended to include instant text messages to inform Country Watch members of crime and policing issues in their area. Sgt Simon Williamson is keen to expand the initiative and is urging more people to get involved.
He said: “At Easingwold we are extremely fortunate to benefit from a well supported and enthusiastic Country Watch.
“Thanks to the hard work and commitment of the rural community, working in partnership with North Yorkshire Police, Country Watch has already brought numerous rural criminals to justice, and provides a valuable source of information.
“We are keen to build on the success we have achieved and encourage anybody who wishes to know more about the scheme to contact their local police station.”
Further plans for expansion include joining forces with Neighbourhood Watch schemes in order to cover rural villages and an upgrade of the text messaging system.
Keith Snowball, Country Watch co-ordinator for the Easingwold area is actively involved in the rural patrols and is keen to see more people supporting Country Watch.
He said: “The scheme is not just for farmers, rural dwellers can join up too. We also need to get people into the habit of calling things in. It is a big area to cover but our help can make a big difference to the police.
“People who live in the countryside know what is the norm and if they see any suspicious vehicles or people then they should be reporting it. We need to be proactive in terms of providing the police with intelligence.”
A large number of Country Watch signs have been produced thanks to a £3000 donation from Fieldcare who are keen supporters of the scheme. The signs are available for people to collect from their local police station and clearly displayed to act as a deterrent to travelling criminals.
The money also covered the production of NYP’s Rural Intelligence packs which are given to members joining police on the night-time patrols. The packs contain log sheets to record registration numbers of suspicious vehicles, crime prevention advice and guidance on how to record detailed descriptions of suspected offenders.
Anyone interested in signing up to Country Watch or obtaining Country Watch signs can call into their local police station or contact 0845 60 60 24 7 and ask for PC Mark Atkinson of the Easingwold Safer Neighbourhood Team.