Within 100 days of office, a dedicated Rural Crime Team was implemented to provide a specialist approach to addressing the concerns of Dorset’s rural sections.
Rural crime accounts for a large proportion of Dorset Police’s demand and there are significant pressures on rural police forces. By introducing this team, more proactive work can be done to target this area of specialist criminality.
Business owners and residents who are victims of rural crime, often have their livelihoods destroyed due to the severe impact it can have. As a result, neighbours and those in the local area often live in fear of becoming a victim themselves and as a result, fear of crime is often high in rural communities.
The team will also educate residents and business owners, encouraging them to follow crime prevention advice to minimise their chances of becoming a victim of crime. This includes restricting access to their land and property by using locks, ensuring homes and outbuildings are alarmed, immobilising farm vehicles when not in use and marking equipment with postcodes.
The Marine Section is based in the marine office at Poole Harbour and is supported by specially trained staff who patrol the 89 miles of Dorset coastline.
They are responsible for all inland waterways from Lyme Regis to Christchurch and use the police rigid inflatable boat (RIB) which has been in service since October 2014.
They can also be called upon for specific operations and patrolling. A new member of the marine section has been recruited which brings the section from a three person team to four, almost doubling the time they are able to be on the water as the boat requires two people to operate it.
They can now maintain coverage over two separate shifts, which will significantly increase the number of patrols the section can undertake.
The Safer Dorset Foundation, a new charity, has been launched by trustees, the Commissioner and Deputy Chief Constable James Vaughan.
The charity will work with Dorset Police, its partners and individuals to keep people and property safe. The charity will support crime prevention and promote an improved quality of life for those living and working in Dorset.
Initially, money raised will go towards projects which aim to help children achieve, protect vulnerable people from abuse and fraud and further enhance the services for victims in the county.
The Safer Dorset Foundation will run completely independently from the Dorset PCC, his office and Dorset Police. It will, however, collaborate with these bodies, working to complement them with their work and grow investment in Dorset.
The PCC will match the first £10,000 raised by the charity which will be funded through a specialist grant from Government.
The Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) hosted its inaugural Problem Solving Forum in partnership with Bournemouth Council for Voluntary Services (CVS), looking at the issue of homelessness.
Housing associations and a range of organisations providing support, mentoring and advocacy, emergency provision, drug and alcohol services, funding, outreach and specialist work with offenders and ex-offenders attended from across the county.
Participants took part in structured workshops on housing, support, finance and health to identify what each organisation could offer and what gaps remain in local service provision.
The PCC Innovation Fund is available for proposals borne out of the Problem Solving Forum.
The PCC said: “I pledged to set up problem solving forums to introduce multi-agency innovation to long-standing problems. We need fresh approaches to issues like homelessness.
"Rough sleeping has been a persistent and complex issue for centuries and it is unrealistic to think this can be resolved overnight. However, I am confident that we can capitalise upon the abundance of commitment that was evident at the forum."
12 December 2017, PCC Martyn Underhill and Poole Harbour Watch supported the launch of a new South West Portwatch scheme, which took place at the Dorset Police Marine Unit in Poole.
The scheme has been rolled out across the strategic alliance, aiming to tackle the specific and unique challenges faced by marine communities. The scheme consists of a secure website and a phone application which sends push notifications out to members.
Inspector Derek McKerl of the Alliance Operations Department said: “Portwatch is a two-way regional messaging system that allows the police, partners and marine communities to share intelligence and manage threat, risk and harm more efficiently. The scheme allows members to report marine or ports related crime directly to those working in this specialised area, reducing demand on control rooms.
To find out more about the South West Portwatch scheme, visit www.maritimeportwatch.schemelink.co.uk. If you feel that your business could benefit from membership, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
On Friday 16 March 2018, Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martyn Underhill joined Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team on patrol. The team conducted visits to rural locations across the county, including farms at Chantmarle, West Stafford and North Holworth.
PCC Martyn Underhill said: “Before the Rural Crime Team was in place, fear of crime was high among rural residents. Having met with a number of farmers, rural business owners and residents during my patrol visit, it’s clear to see that fantastic progress has already been made. Our rural communities are now more engaged with Dorset Police and confidence in reporting is up.”
The team has trained fellow officers, call handlers and radio operators to ensure that Dorset Police is dealing with reports of rural crime consistently and efficiently. Using their particular expertise, the team has provided guidance during investigations, conducted a number of targeted operations to seize property stolen from rural communities and worked closely with surrounding forces and enforcement partners.
PC Claire Dinsdale, rural crime co-ordinator, said: “Our focus is on crime prevention and we need the public’s help with this. The key thing we would ask rural communities to do is invest in early intervention alarms. Installing this wireless technology ensures any intruder on your property will trigger an alarm when invisible beams are crossed, immediately alerting you to their presence. This technology disrupts offenders and helps us bring them to justice.”
PCSO Tom Balchin, rural engagement officer, said: “We have a number of measures available to us to disrupt offenders’ activities, such as Criminal Behaviour Orders, but promptly reported intelligence is vital in the fight against rural crime. We encourage you to report any crimes or suspicious incidents with as much detail as possible online at dorset.police.uk and sign up to rural alerts at dorsetalert.co.uk.”
The police and crime commissioner encouraged people to make their voices heard by completing the 2018 National Rural Crime Survey.
The survey, conducted by the National Rural Crime Network, covered a range of issues facing rural communities.
Dorset respondents to the survey identified fly-tipping and speeding as the crime types they were most concerned about and work is already underway to tackle them.
For example, the police and crime commisisoner recently held a fly-tipping problem solving forum, bringing together muliple agencies to help address the issue. There are also a number of initiatives aimed at reducing speeding in Dorset including the work of Dorset Police's No Excuse team and various community speedwatch groups.
Dorset Police has had a Rural Crime Team since 2016 as a result of one of the police and crime commissioner’s election pledges. According to the survey approximately half (47%) of all Dorset respondents were aware of the specialist Rural Crime Team, compared to just 32% of respondents nationally who were of aware of their local rural crime teams.
Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “Almost half of Dorset’s residents live in rural areas and it is important that they are engaged and their voices are heard. Having met with a number of farmers, rural business owners and residents on my patrol visit with the Rural Crime Team earlier this year, it is clear that progress has been made in reducing the fear of rural crime in Dorset.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner held a Problem Solving Forum on fly-tipping in June 2018.
The forum brought together a number of statutory and non-statutory agencies together to dicuss how best to tackle fly-tipping in Dorset. It facilitated information sharing and generated a number of ideas to be explored further.