Crack down on roving criminals

Police are to crack down on travelling criminals who prey on rural communities.

Operation Hawk will see North Yorkshire officers using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology and sharing information with colleagues from neighbouring policing areas, and have warned they will be ready and waiting to pounce on those suspected of targeting farms, rural businesses, outbuildings and vehicles.

Acting Assistant Chief Constable Ken McIntosh, who is leading the campaign, said: “We are absolutely determined to crack down on travelling criminals who create misery and distress for residents in some of our most rural and remote locations.

“Making the best use of established and live intelligence about suspicious vehicle movements and activity in the area, Operation Hawk will actively track and trace criminals who venture into North Yorkshire, as well as those who are based in the county.

“The stark message to the criminal fraternity is that there is nowhere to hide: we will be watching, waiting and ready to pounce.”

Action will also be co-ordinated alongside volunteers from rural, farm and border watch schemes.

Acting Assistant Chief Constable McIntosh added: “Operation Hawk is about safeguarding the security and quality-of-life in our rural communities, and ensuring North Yorkshire Police and our partners are doing everything we can to hit criminals hard, disrupt their activity and bring them to justice.”

Chief Constable Dave Jones said: “Tackling rural and cross-border crime is one of the key strategic objectives for North Yorkshire Police. I want to reassure people living in our rural communities that we are here to help and support you.

“We have listened carefully and know that many people feel vulnerable to the threat of travelling criminals, from both within and outside our policing area.

“Operation Hawk will address these concerns head-on. By working together, sharing information and enhancing security and crime-prevention arrangements, we can make a real difference.”

Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said: “Having spoken to many farmers, the National Farmers’ Union and the rural communities, I know rural crime is frequently under reported. Some people have also lost faith in getting these issues resolved.

“Through Operation Hawk, we now need to make sure we enhance our work with the volunteer networks to ensure all crimes are reported to the police, and that more is done to prevent rural crime and bring those to justice who cause such harm in these communities.

“I am delighted that the service has launched this operation and look forward to seeing the results, and hearing from people living in our rural areas.”