Improve your riding with Central Bristol Training Days
January 22, 2019
The ABR Festival 2020
March 6, 2019
 

Derbyshire Police have a new dedicated Rural Crime Team, who’s majority of work sees them out in all weathers, day and night in the Peak District National Park, which happens to be a favourite place for Trail riders.

Sgt James Shirley is a member of TRF and explains how we can help police tackle Rural and Wildlife Crime, whilst out on the lanes.

 

TRF:

What are the Rural Crime Teams priorities?

Sgt James Shirley:

The aim is to provide a dedicated response to combat and prevent criminality affecting the rural and farming communities of Derbyshire. To increase engagement, confidence and reassurance within these communities.

We have 6 national Rural crime priority areas - Farm Machinery Theft (ATV, Tractor and plant theft), Livestock offences (worrying and theft) Fuel theft, Equine crime, Industrial scale Fly tipping and poaching.

TRF:

And what about wildlife?

Sgt James Shirley:

We also deal with wildlife crime, this is again set by the National Police Chiefs Council and we have several areas to concentrate our attention on. The main ones being badger persecution (the illegal digging and killing of badgers) and raptor persecution (the illegal killing of birds of prey). We are also responsible for policing illegal hunting following the introduction of the Hunting Act in 2004.

TRF:

So what does rural and wildlife crime look like?

Sgt James Shirley:

The best thing you can do to get a flavour of what to look out for is scroll through our Facebook page @Derbysire Rural Crime Team. Headless pheasants, stolen generators, quads and motor bikes, deer and hare coursing with long dogs, shot birds of prey, stolen peregrine falcon eggs and mauled livestock and of course illegal and irresponsible of roading.

TRF:

So what can our trail riders do to help? 

Sgt James Shirley:

Rural communities are isolated and remote, which gives criminals the edge when they want to commit crime. We are asking all visitors of the Peaks to help us in tackling crime by keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. Be vigilant to what’s going on around them whilst out on the lanes. The offences above take place daily in the countryside across the country, but if you don't look for it, it is rarely seen.

 

Derbyshire-Rural-Crime-02
TRF:

So what is or isn’t suspicious?

Sgt James Shirley:

Good question, people genuinely don’t know that some of these practices still take place.

For example badger baiting happens throughout the county side, this is the use of small terrier dogs and spades to dig out badgers and kill them in various horrific ways.

Hare coursing, this happens in open fields where the dogs have a chance to run and get up to speed, you will often see a group of individuals walking two or more long dogs (lurcher, Saluki type). They will often be on slip leads and will be looking for hares, they often stand out due to their lack of appropriate clothing for the countryside they are in. Betting takes place on which dog turns the hare the most number of times and how quickly.

There is also hare hunting which is simply dogs chasing hares and killing them. Birds of prey such as the Goshawk, Hen Harrier and Peregrine should thrive in the Peak District, but they don’t. They are targeted by many people, some manage large estates, some have valuable pigeons to protect and some simply don’t like them or see it as a bit of fun to kill them.

TRF:

What do we do if we see something suspicious?

Sgt James Shirley:

If you suspect a crime is taking place then always dial 999. We know 101 can be difficult to get through on but incidents can now be reported online. If in Derbyshire then let us know on our Rural Crime team Facebook page. Other force areas will have similar rural police Facebook accounts.

TRF:

And what do you need in terms of evidence?

Sgt James Shirley:

As trail riders tend to be in groups which is great for corroboration of evidence. We also often have sports cameras in operation and most have mobile phone! An image or photograph is often the best evidence. Try to obtain registrations of offending vehicles involved and we will do the rest.

TRF:

Trail riders in the past have had some frosty receptions with the police up and down the country with regards to minor traffic infringements, is this still the case and why should they now help?

Sgt James Shirley:

The current risk and threat we face in the countryside, especially in relation to acquisitive crime and poaching, takes priority over anything less serious. Acquisitive rural crime is costing the county millions of pounds. The criminal gangs are organised and transport stolen machinery all around the world.

My advice, stick to the paths you’re allowed to ride on, no off piste, and make sure you know where SSSI land is and keep well away. Also, report any anti social use of the lanes that you may witness, as this spoils it for the rest of us trying to ride legally, and just gets peoples backs up.

Derbyshire Rural Crime 01
TRF:

Any other advice to bike owners? 

Sgt James Shirley:

One of our priorities is theft of ATV’s and bikes. Our advice, don’t transport on a trailer. Make sure when advertising bikes or paraphernalia you don't unintentionally disclose where your bike is stored, check the settings of your adverts, criminals will use Google street view and social media to ascertain where your bike is stored. Consider getting a tracker. Get in touch and we can let you know which companies we have worked with.

We work closely with out neighbouring SYP off road team who are all fellow trail riders in their spare time. I recommend you follow their success at recovering stolen bikes on facebook @sypoffroadteam.

To find out more, and contribute to looking after the countryside for generations to come, and protect our farming industry from being targeted, follow us on facebook and pledge your support to keep an eye out for suspicious activity in the countryside.

2 Comments

  1. This is a really worthwhile initiative. Those of us who live in rural areas know that the Police have an almost impossible job trying to do it without the help of the public.

    As we (trail riders) are such a valuable potential asset in this area, it would be nice to think that there was a little Quid Quo Pro, such as not getting routinely pulled over and nicked for a small number plate, but….?

Leave a Reply