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Police and Crime Commissioners lead campaign to tackle rural crime

Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner, David Sidwick, has joined with his counterparts in the south-west to lead a new campaign and bring together all police forces in the region to combat the involvement of Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) in rural crime.

Under the new initiative known as Operation Ragwort, the OCGs who target rural communities and are at the forefront of crimes such as burglary, the theft of farm vehicles and equipment, poaching and hare coursing, will be the focus of a regional, co-ordinated, campaign led by the south-west region’s Police and Crime Commissioners.

Mr Sidwick said Ragwort - with mutual support and cooperation across the south-west - will provide an intelligence rich picture of the level of criminality enabling forces to better disrupt and apprehend those responsible, making Dorset safer for rural residents.

He said “I am delighted to once again be joining with the other forces and PCCs in the South West, this time to tackle rural crime. It has always been abundantly clear to me that Dorset is home to immensely proud rural communities, and I have always been a strong believer that more could be done to support Dorset’s rural residents. 

Fighting Rural Crime is a priority of my Police and Crime Plan and I ensured investment to increase four fold the Dorset Police Rural Crime team which has been carrying out some great work to take robust action against the OCGs operating in our rural areas. The team even recently won an NPCC award for most innovative partnership to tackle serious and organised acquisitive crime. 

However, this success is only possible by working with our neighbouring forces. Operation Ragwort will allow us to work together across the South West to truly start to address the issues facing our rural communities. Criminals don’t see borders and now neither will we.”

As the south-west’s response to serious, organised, acquisitive crimes and rural crime, the operation will utilise and coordinate intelligence from our smallest communities through to local policing areas and across to other force areas and national and international borders.

The National Rural Crime Network has commissioned research into the link between rural crime and organised criminal gangs, and preliminary evidence suggests that rural crime is being used by gangs to fund other criminal activities including links to the international drugs trade. 

With this in mind, Operation Ragwort hopes to build upon the successful partnership work in the south-west which is being done to disrupt the illegal drugs in the region, which was launched in 2021 as Operation Scorpion.

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