Police chief addresses rural crime priorities as record number of Herts police officers promised by 2022

Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd with new Herts Police officers. Picture: Herts Police

PCC David Lloyd says that the number of officers at Herts police will reach record numbers by March 2022 - Credit: Archant

Around 100 residents, farmers and business owners concerned about rural crime spoke about the future of policing at a Virtual Barn Meeting with Hertfordshire police chiefs last week.

The virtual meeting was held by Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd last Wednesday to provide an opportunity for those interested to learn about the latest rural crime priorities and developments across the county.

The PCC's Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan prioritises tackling rural crime throughout the county, from hare coursing and livestock worrying to fly-tipping, theft of agricultural machinery and speeding through villages.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Lloyd said: “It is important to have these meetings to hear your voice. We are here to listen to people from the rural communities and hear what is happening to them.

“Over the years farmers, landowners, residents and people involved in the rural economy have been instrumental in shaping my Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan. As a result we have put more money in the Rural Operational Support Team and it has kept rural policing at the top of the agenda.

"We have put a lot of time and money into trying to do something about fly tipping. We have set up a fund to pay for the removal of rubbish dumped illegally and to target harden the sites where it occurs.

“It is one of the crimes that causes concern in rural communities and we will continue to tackle those too. These include theft of equipment, agricultural machinery, livestock worrying and hare coursing."

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“One of the concerns around rural policing is that people can feel alone, and that there may not be someone to there to support you quickly.

“I have pushed hard to get extra officers and get them in quickly. We will never have had so many by the end of the forthcoming financial year. By end of March 2022, Herts police will have grown to a record high figure of 2,267 officers, the most we have ever had."

To pay for these new officers, the policing precept of council tax bills will be increased after thousands of Herts residents indicated their support for such a move in a survey.

For the average Band D property, this will result in a rise of £1.25 per month - paving the way for 77 extra officers and the new Prevention First initiative.

Cllr David Barnard, who was also in attendance at the Virtual Barn Meeting, says he has long implored rural community policing to do more, and says the news of increased police presence was welcome.

"Heightened car crime, young people openly peddling drugs, speeding, fly tipping, and more is blighting our streets and lanes," he said.

"The news of increased officers is welcome, but I have asked for plain clothed officers in our villages, more uniformed officers and marked cars in our areas, with even more needed at night.

"You've got to stop it somehow, and I'm hoping we're able to nip it in the bud at the very bottom in the future."