MOUNTED uniformed volunteers could help police the countryside in a bid to combat rural crime.

The suggestion came at a meeting between Dorset NFU and the county’s police and crime commissioner Martyn Underhill.

Mr Underhill wants to make sure the success of Bridport’s ‘Stop that Thief’ campaign, in collaboration with the NFU, is mirrored elsewhere in the county.

He said: “The talks provided a valuable insight into the crimes and challenges which our farmers face.

“Issues ranged from sheep rustling and fuel theft, to fly-tipping and fly-grazing.

“The representatives seemed to agree with my view that police response to rural crime, is at times, sporadic.

“I have had various farmers telling me that a ‘postcode lottery’ exists when it comes to dealing with rural crime.

“I was shocked to hear that some farmers in Dorset have fallen victim to sheep rustling, where entire flocks have been taken in the middle of the night to slaughterhouses elsewhere in the country.”

Mr Underhill, with Dorset’s chief constable Debbie Simpson, have agreed to a review into rural crime.

He said: “The Chief Constable and I want to see a pan Dorset approach to all aspects of rural crime.

“A Dorset where all officers use the same rural crime tool-kit.

“A Dorset with a more consistent approach to rural watch schemes such as Stop That Thief, which works well in places like Bridport, but is more sporadic in other areas.

“The Chief Constable and I want to see the policing of rural communities becoming more effective, despite having fewer officers.”

Mr Underhill has also welcomed offers from volunteers who want to set up a mounted volunteer force in their communities.

He said: “I am pleased to tell you that a number of people have expressed an interest in becoming rural mounted volunteers.

“We haven’t had this capability in Dorset for more than 20 years, so this is welcome news.

“We are going to explore working with an equestrian society to establish a training programme.

“These mounted volunteers won’t police football matches or public order events, they will merely take a uniform presence to their own rural communities on horseback.”

The police also want to find six wildlife Specials who will be trained in wildlife crime, working with the RSPCA, the NFU and other organisations like Countryside Alliance and Country Land and Business Association.


Bridport Police Inspector Mike Derby said Bridport Police had been working with the NFU for six years on the ‘Stop That Thief’ campaign.

He said: “This initiative has proved time and time again as a highly effective crime prevention tool where hundreds of farms and small rural businesses in the area have adopted the Stop That Thief tactics and have prevented a large number of rural thefts and crimes on their land.

“This is because of the excellent liaison between Beaminster Safer Neighbourhood Team led by PC Tim Poole and West Dorset NFU who have worked very hard in partnership to make the initiative cost effective, simple in operation and easily deployed in areas at risk of crime.

“Feedback from the community has been overwhelming in support and it’s clearly a highly effective crime prevention tool.”