Dorset Police joined with forces with partner agencies from across the South West to come together for the first time to discuss a joint approach to tackling rural crime in the region.

Senior police officers, police and crime commissioners and rural crime partners from all five police forces in the South West attended the event at Kingston Maurward College, near Dorchester.

The conference, sponsored by Cornish Mutual, focused on how police can better work with rural communities in deterring, detecting, and disrupting serious organised crime, as well as building confidence in local policing.

Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Rachel Farrell, from Dorset Police, said: “This conference was designed to build relationships and harness the force of the South West region to tackle rural crime and cross-border organised acquisitive crime.

“Organised crime often leads to other types and these organised groups travel across borders throughout the South West, committing crimes and affecting our rural communities.

“Effective partnership working is the way forward.”

Subject matter experts spoke at the conference to look at the impact of rural crime, how academic research can be used to inform investigation and prevention and strengthening partnerships to target criminals and increase collaboration with those working and living in rural communities.

ACC Farrell added: “Rural communities often have different needs and concerns when it comes to crime and anti-social behaviour. The types of crime that affect rural areas can be unique to those communities and criminals are often organised in the targeting of these areas.

“This all has a significant impact, not just on individuals, but also on rural farms and businesses so important to our local economies. And due to the geographic spread of rural areas, it can often be hard to detect and prevent crimes and the sense of isolation and remoteness can increase the vulnerability of rural residents.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, David Sidwick said: “This conference is a great opportunity for us all to come together as neighbouring forces to tackle the crimes that affect our rural communities the most. Criminals do not see county borders and in order to be successful in catching and deterring offenders we must not either."

“In Dorset, our Rural Crime Team has been strengthened massively in the last year, which has only been intensified by the ability to work effectively with colleagues and partner organisations across the county’s borders. I look forward to seeing what else can be achieved from this growing partnership across the South West, starting with this first conference.”

This is the first South West Region Rural Crime Conference and it is anticipated to become an annual event.