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International Recognition for North Yorkshire's Rural Police

International Recognition for North Yorkshire's Rural Police

Published by Matthew Pells at 6:01am 14th November 2019.

North Yorkshire Police could pick up an international award later.

The Rural Taskforce has been shortlisted in the World Class Policing Awards 2019, which organisers say “celebrate and acknowledge the best in all aspects of 21st century policing”.

The awards also aim to showcase achievement and success, and promote the sharing and delivery of innovation and good practice.

North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce is the country’s largest dedicated rural policing team. Led by Inspector Jon Grainge and Sergeant Stuart Grainger, the team works on a whole range of issues facing the rural community.

The team, made up of PCs and PCSOs, take a high-visibility, neighbourhood approach to rural policing – even through the ‘neighbourhood’ is one of the largest areas of countryside in English policing. That approach increases the level of information and intelligence received from rural communities, and gives residents confidence that they can report matters to the police and they will take action.

In addition to the regular officers and police staff in the team, the Rural Taskforce also has an extended family of volunteers who deploy on Mobile Rural Watch patrols. The patrols operate across the North Yorkshire countryside, supporting the force’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Rural Taskforce. Volunteers use their own vehicles, and are equipped with police radios so they can communicate with officers. By drawing on the expert local knowledge of the volunteers, any suspicious activity or vehicles can be dealt with in real time.

The Taskforce is also responsible for a wide variety of proactive policing operations to tackle the issues that matter most to rural communities, including:

  • Op Galileo, to tackle poaching
  • Op Eyeball, to deter the growing issue of fly-tipping
  • Op Exceed, helping horse-owners to prevent equine crime
  • Op Sidekick, targeting plant and machinery thieves
  • Op Woollen, which promotes security at farm premises

The Taskforce are also behind Operation Owl, which launched in February 2018 as a joint initiative by North Yorkshire Police, the RSPB and the RSPCA, together with the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. The initiative raises awareness of bird of prey persecution, encouraging the public to be vigilant for signs of this criminal activity, whilst increasing police surveillance checks on known hot-spots in order to disrupt offender activity. In June 2019, Operation Owl was rolled out nationally by Superintendent Nick Lyall, National Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group. Supt Lyall described the campaign as a “great idea, a fantastic example which shows just how effective partnership working can be”.

Inspector Jon Grainge said:

“It’s a great honour to be shortlisted for a policing award alongside colleagues from the UK, Australia, New Zealand and around the world. The recognition reflects the dedication of the Taskforce, but also colleagues across the force who work so hard to keep our rural communities safe – and of course, the hundreds of volunteers who give up their own time to support us through Mobile Rural Watch patrols and engagement events across the county.

We don’t aim to win awards – we aim to keep rural residents safe by catching criminals and safeguarding our communities. However, it’s very rewarding to see our approach recognised at an international level.”

DCC Phil Cain said:

“We’re extremely proud of the Rural Taskforce. Their efforts – supported by officers, staff and volunteers across North Yorkshire Police – are making a real difference in our rural communities.

There is of course lots of work still to be done, and we aren’t complacent, but it’s very reassuring to know that we are right at the forefront of best practice in rural policing nationally and internationally.”

The Rural Taskforce have previously won awards including Wildlife Crime Operation of the Year, for Operational Owl; an Outstanding Contribution award from the RSPCA for former team member Sgt Kevin Kelly; and an Inspiration award in North Yorkshire Police’s 2018 Public Choice Awards recognising their engagement and crime prevention work.


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