The dedicated rural task force team were introduced in February, with a total of 20 officers across Lancashire dedicated to tackling local initiatives and rural crime types such as quad thefts, off road and nuisance bikes, theft of livestock and sheep worrying, alongside poaching and snaring wild animals.
Neighbourhood Policing Inspector for Rossendale, Dave Clarke said the task force are dedicated to keeping the local community safe, protecting wildlife and safeguarding livelihoods of farmers and businesses across the East of the county.
“This team is a welcome addition to the Waterfoot policing response. We have been fortunate to be allocated four officers who have been through rigorous training to ensure they have the necessary skills and expertise to tackle the issues that matter most to our communities.”
One of the priorities for our neighbourhood and task force teams over the coming months will be cracking down on the use of off-road bikes across the moors. Insp Clarke added:
“While some may see this as harmless, it’s causing disruption to landowners, residents and the natural habitat of many types of wildlife and protected breeds of livestock. The exhaust pipes of these bikes also get extremely hot, and can cause grass fires which lead to incredibly destructive wildfires across the moors which then require a large-scale response from other Force areas.
“Similarly, if livestock are dispersed or rounded up by off road bikes, ewes in lamb can go into a state of shock and miscarry – often late term – which not only is a welfare issue for the animal but a livelihood concern for many of our farmers.
“Should riders be caught on the moors, their bikes will be seized under section 59 of the Road Traffic Act and on some occasions, those bikes can and will be crushed. Please take five to think about the consequences of your Sunday afternoon ride – there is a bigger picture here”
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Chris Webb agreed and thanks the residents for their support: “The rural task force have only been in post a few weeks and have, with the help of local communities, quickly started to tackle issues that matter to people.
“Protecting our rural communities is as much a priority for the Commissioner as it is policing our more urban towns and cities. These taskforces support his commitment to making sure the public see genuine improvements to local policing and increased officer numbers as we invest back into the force.
“These five teams are trained to help tackle the unique issues faced in more rural areas and build safer rural communities, by working closely with the people who live and work in them. The force has been rated as outstanding in terms of our efficient use of the resources we have so, residents can be confident we will continue to deliver the highest quality policing service possible.”
The rural task force team will continue to team up with colleagues at Greater Manchester Police and West Yorkshire Police alongside partners in the Environmental Agency, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and United Utilities on the issue of off-road bikes; investing in and utilising kit which will help to identify riders across the moors and those responsible for this type of anti-social behaviour.
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