Neighbourhood Watch Logo

New Team To Tackle Countryside Crime In Sussex

Sussex Police has launched a new rural crime team, whose overall aim is to crack down on unlawful behaviour in isolated communities.

This team, launched on 1 June, has been made possible with the precept increase, as acquired by Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne at the start of this financial year. The new funding will allow for more enforcement and greater local policing presence, part of which is rural crime.

The team will have a specialist focus on agricultural, equine, wildlife and heritage issues and it has been brought together to serve the rural community, to increase confidence and encourage reporting through preventing crime and carrying out more proactive investigations.

Made up of two sergeants, eight constables and six police community support officers (PCSOs), the team will be operating out of bases at Midhurst and Heathfield.

The impact of rural crime has become more apparent in recent years and this is reflected with the implementation of the national Rural Affairs Strategy in 2018, from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

Sussex Police’s own Rural Crime Strategy aims to make rural communities feel safer by building long-lasting partnerships, responding to the community’s needs and provide an effective policing service. In turn, this work aims to increase confidence in the police in our more isolated areas. With 62% of Sussex’s area dedicated to farming and a significant proportion being in the South Downs National Park, Sussex is defined as ‘significantly rural’ by DEFRA (2011).

Recently, Sussex Police arrested three men near High Hurstwood, Wealden, on suspicion of burglary and going equipped for burglary. This is just one example of the force’s approach to disrupting rural crime in the county.

Chief Inspector Steve Biglands, Sussex Police’s Rural Crime lead, said: “We are keenly aware of the significant impact that these types of crimes have on our remote communities, and the implementation of this new team is designed to provide a direct

link between those more isolated and the police. We want to encourage reporting of rural crimes, because with this insight, we are able to deploy the team to where they are most needed in order to protect the most vulnerable. We have a substantial number of rural residents and businesses in Sussex and they deserve our protection.”

Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner said: “It is so important to have a dedicated team for this area of policing, which quite often can go unnoticed. We want to reassure the residents of Sussex that we are here to disrupt rural crime, to catch those who think they can get away with it and to ensure our more isolated communities feel safe in their own homes.

“There have been cases recently of animal thefts, quad bike thefts and numerous other countryside offences. We understand how destructive these are to people’s livelihoods, and how damaging they can be emotionally to the victim. We want perpetrators of these crimes to know we are here to catch them: do not consider committing the crime because we will bring you to justice.

“Working closely with partners, we can draw on expertise and resources from all over the county; together, we can provide the service needed to prevent rural crime.”

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “Through my ongoing consultations with local residents and organisations, including the National Farmers’ Union, I know that our rural and village communities in Sussex can sometimes feel ‘abandoned’ and ‘forgotten about’.

“Rural crime is particularly worrying and, since the Covid-19 lock down, there have been many disturbing reports of fly-tipping and expensive equipment theft. I want to reassure our rural residents that these crimes will not be ignored and are being taken extremely seriously.

“This expanded team will have the specialist knowledge, skills and training that is vital to police our rural communities, successfully investigate and prosecute crimes made against them and keep people feeling safe where they live and work.

“I know that this will be welcome news to many residents and organisations across Sussex.”

Coronavirus-Related Scams – How To Protect Yourself

Criminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to try and get their hands on your money and personal information. To date, Action Fraud has received reports from 2,378 victims of Coronavirus-related scams, with the total losses reaching over £7 million.

How you can protect yourself from Coronavirus-related scams:

There are some simple steps you can take that will protect you from the most common Coronavirus-related scams. Here’s what need to do:

1 – Watch out for scam messages

Your bank, or other official organisations, won’t ask you to share personal information over email or text. If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS): report@phishing.gov.uk

2 – Shopping online

If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry

out some research first, for example, by checking to see if others have used the site and what their experience was. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, other payment providers may not provide the same protection.

3 – Unsolicited calls and browser pop-ups offering tech support

Never install any software, or grant remote access to your computer, as a result of a cold call. Remember, legitimate organisations would never contact you out of the blue to ask for financial details such as your PIN or full banking password.

NHS Test and Trace scams:

The NHS Test and Trace service plays an important role in the fight against Coronavirus and it’s vital the public have confidence and trust in the service. However, we understand the concerns people have about the opportunity for criminals to commit scams.

What you need to know:

Contact tracers will only call you from the number 0300 013 5000. Anyone who does not wish to talk over the phone can request the NHS Test and Trace service to send an email or text instead, inviting them to log into the web-based service.

All text or emails sent by NHS Test and Trace will ask people to sign into the contact tracing website and will provide you with a unique reference number. We would advise people to type the web address https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk directly into their browser, followed by the unique reference number given to you, rather than clicking on any link provided in the message.

The NHS Test and Trace service will never:

  • ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
  • ask for any details about your bank account
  • ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
  • ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
  • ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

If you think you have been a victim of fraud, please report it to Action Fraud at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. If you live in Scotland, please report directly to Police Scotland by calling 101.