A new dedicated policing team has been launched in Leeds to tackle wildlife and rural crime.
The Leeds District Wildlife and Rural Crime Team will work to address and raise awareness of issues including animal cruelty and poaching. It will also focus on crimes such as burglary and theft of farm machinery that affect rural and farming communities.
According the rural insurers NFU Mutual, the cost of rural crime in West Yorkshire in 2017 was estimated at £1.8m – a 13.5 per cent increase.
The new team, which has been created with the support student officers, will see officers embedded with local neighbourhood policing teams across Leeds as a point of contact for their colleagues and members of the public.
The team will target organised offenders involved in rural crime, take the lead on investigations of wildlife crimes and provide crime prevention advice to prevent and deter offences.
The officers will work closely in partnership with key agencies including the RSPCA and NFU and neighbouring police forces.
They will also be expanding and developing the Farm Watch and Horse Watch initiatives, which are free schemes that provide a network to share information and intelligence to warn residents and businesses when rural crimes or suspicious incidents occur.