On the beat with Royston’s rural police team

PC Mike Hardiman and PCSO Chris Brabrook

PC Mike Hardiman and PCSO Chris Brabrook - Credit: Archant

With nationwide cuts to police services, the image of countryside coppers making the village rounds may seem like a quaint idyll from bygone years.

PC Mike Hardiman

PC Mike Hardiman - Credit: Archant

But after a recent burglary in Ashwell, PC Mike Hardiman and PCSO Chris Brabrook from the Royston Rural Safer Neighbourhood Team were straight on the case, arranging visits to give advice to villagers on how to best protect their homes.

I joined the pair on Thursday afternoon as they leafletted houses, chatting to homeowners about their concerns along the way.

PCSO Brabook said: “You get a really good response when you do the rounds and carry out speed enforcement, it’s important to have that presence there.”

Rather than drug raids and muggings, rural crimes tend to cover things like hare coursing, farm burglaries and red diesel thefts.

PC Hardiman said: “The issue with rural crimes is that people take advantage of the fact that there are few people about.”

For this reason, when the team drive around rural lanes and spot lone vehicles, they make regular calls back to base to check for anything suspicious.

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PC Hardiman said: “What is so great about the job is that it is one of the only roles left in the police force where you can do a bit of everything. Royston has a very low crime rate compared to most other towns. It’s a really safe county.

“We have some towns that cause more harm than others, such as Stevenage, but on the whole crime is low.

“The villages around Royston are very affluent and expensive.

“There are no particularly bad areas, but crimes tend to happen in spates, and when there is a spate going on, we go and target that area.”

After the doorstep duty, it was time for a bit of speed enforcement, tackling one of the biggest concerns for people in the area.

PC Hardiman said: “We have been asked by members of the public to have speeding as one of our priorities.

“Speeding is an issue in villages. People often don’t seem to pay attention when they hit a village, and think it is still the national speed limit, but they may have already passed a school or houses which is a hazard.

“Another issue is off road biking, and we have a quad bike to catch people speeding off road.

“People love seeing the quad bike out and about – it’s not the first vehicle you associate with the police.”