EFFORTS to tackle crime in rural Northumberland are to be stepped up through technology upgrades, dedicated training and the continued roll-out of successful community engagement work, Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness has revealed.

More than £250,000 in funding secured by the Commissioner’s office means Northumbria Police’s latest plans to tackle rural crime and make people feel safer are being given the go ahead.

Rural crime covers a wide range of crimes from poaching and theft to ASB and more serious organised crime.

Addressing the serious impact crime can have on farmers and their families, and others who live in our more isolated communities, is high on the policing priorities list for PCC McGuinness and the force.

The enhanced rural policing plans involve encouraging reporting, working with others to prevent crime and targeted activity to pursue offenders. It will help fund new technologies covering number plate recognition and thermal imaging as well as research and practical crime prevention tools.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “Northumbria Police is known for rolling out some of the best rural policing operations in the country but there is always more that officers want to be doing to clampdown on criminal activity and protect these communities. Rural policing is certainly not something that’s overlooked in our area, and we are one of few forces who have bid for funding specifically to tackle this area of work – it’s hugely important to us.

“It’s vital that officers have the tools to do the job and there are some big plans in the pipeline to improve the technology around data gathering and intelligence sharing with other members of our countryside communities who work hard alongside our policing teams to keep the area safe and fight crime.

“For me this work is about strengthening a lot of good work that’s happening already and making sure Northumbria Police continues to lead the way, making sure we are always one step ahead of criminals and responding to the needs of residents. We all want to keep pushing crime down.”

Chief Supt Janice Hutton, who leads Northumbria Police’s Harm Reduction and Communities Team, said: “We are delighted to see additional funding has been secured to build on the dedicated initiatives we already have in place to keep our rural communities safe.

“Policing these areas presents a number of unique challenges, not least due to the sheer size and sprawling nature of the landscape we cover and also the types of crimes which can occur.

“That is why it is vitally important we have bespoke operations in place to not only help prevent offences from happening but also to provide a robust response when they do occur.

“We recognise the impact criminality can have on often small, close-knit communities and we are absolutely committed to providing the very best service possible.

“The support we receive from the people who live and work in these rural areas, alongside our partners, is absolutely crucial to this – and we look forward to seeing this continue as we all come together to help ensure the region remains safe.”

£255,186 in funding has been secured through Round 4 of the Home Office’s Safer Streets fund. Plans have been supported by Northumberland Council, Farmwatch, Northumberland Fire and Rescue, Northumberland National Park and Mountain Rescue Team, and Forestry England.