NGO celebrates National Rural Crime Action Week and the work of rural crime teams
This week is National Rural Crime Action Week, which aims to raise awareness of the impact of rural crime nationwide. Some of the most important work that our Development Officers do involves working with the police – and in particular the various rural crime forces across the country.
This week is National Rural Crime Action Week, which aims to raise awareness of the impact of rural crime nationwide.
Our members and staff are fully aware of the extent of rural crime across the country, and in many cases bear the brunt of criminal activity. In other cases, they incorrectly have the finger of blame pointed at them.
As a result of this, some of the most important work that our Development Officers do involves working with the police – and in particular the various rural crime forces across the country.
Our work with rural crime teams covers a number of different topics and happens in a variety of formats. Working alongside the police, the NGO sit on a number of the UK National Wildlife Crime Delivery Units, including the England and Wales Poaching Priority Delivery Group and the Bird of Prey Crime Priority Delivery Group, working together to stamp out poaching and raptor crime respectively. In recent years we have also been working closely with the police in the run-up to the start of the grouse-shooting season, offering advice on how best to deal with saboteurs. This work has seen an excellent response from the police forces in the north of England, and we continue to work with the police to get a better response nationally.
As well as focusing on shoot days specifically and explaining to the police what legal and legitimate shooting looks like, the NGO Development Officers also run gamekeeper awareness day courses which are available to all police forces across the country and are open to any officers who might be interested in working in the rural community alongside gamekeepers and land managers, or who do so already.
Gamekeepers by nature are passionate about the environment that they live and work in. They are often a vital asset to the police as they can often be the eyes and ears for the community, especially in rural areas. It is therefore extremely important that we all work together, and the gamekeeper awareness days help to facilitate this.
Over the course of the day the police officers learn about the value of shooting to the rural economy; the role of the gamekeeper in both upland and in low ground areas, the law and how it relates to the General Licence, the control of avian pest species, trapping mammals and legal traps. Wildlife crime, raptor persecution and evidence gathering, and saboteurs and the inciting of hatred, violence and criminal damage against gamekeepers and shooters are also discussed. The police have the opportunity to walk around the estate and see various traps in situ, as well as pose any questions to both the estate keeper and the NGO staff.
As a result of our close work with rural police, the NGO are often called upon to give advice on, for example, the legality of various traps or to encourage gamekeepers to help the police in their enquiries when rural crime has been carried out. We recently worked with North Yorkshire Police on an updated Crimestoppers leaflet advising the public on what to do if they come across a dead bird of prey, for example.
In addition to working with rural crime teams up and down the country, we also have a close working relationship with the firearms licencing departments. The vast majority of our members will have a shotgun or firearms licence, and we have a dedicated firearms licensing liaison officer at the NGO, Alan Barrell. He is available to help any member who has queries regarding their firearms licence, or lend a hand if they are struggling to get hold of their local licensing officer.
Rural crime is often seen as a ‘hidden’ crime as it is often not taken as seriously as crimes in more urban environments. However crimes such as theft, poaching and other wildlife crimes, abuse, damage to property and harassment can easily slip under the radar in less populated areas. The impact of these crimes is often underestimated, particularly in remote areas.
The NGO are hugely grateful for the hard work that rural crime teams carry out on a daily basis across the country, and will continue to work with them to help both stamp out crime, and ensure that gamekeepers can continue to carry out their work legally and correctly without fear of being targeted.
Notes to Editors:
The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation: The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) represents the gamekeepers of England and Wales. The NGO defends and promotes gamekeeping and gamekeepers and works to ensure high standards throughout the profession. The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation was founded in 1997 by a group of gamekeepers who felt that keepering was threatened by public misunderstanding and poor representation. Today, there are 13,000 members of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation. www.nationalgamekeepers.org.uk