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Lancashire Constabulary’s Rural Task Force – how they keep residents safe

On 30 March 2022, PC Wood and PC Hartup from The Ribble Valley Rural Task Force attended the Parish Council meeting. They came along to talk about their role dedicated to protecting rural communities such as West Bradford from a range of criminal activity.

The officers explained that the Ribble Valley Rural Task Force is currently one of 5 such teams established across the County (with a sixth soon to be initiated). Each team had a complement of 4 officers, all of which could be deployed in any rural area across the County (thereby adding increased flexibility of resource).

Established just over a year ago, the team was willing to investigate any criminal activity which impacted rural communities and had already achieved a number of successes in this regard. These included:

  • the development of strong partnership working with other agencies (RSPCA, Environment Agency) as well as neighbouring forces (West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire);

  • activity to disrupt the supply of illegal drugs, especially when sold through “county lines” – these investigations were likely to result in charges in the near future. The team had also supported the deployment of sniffer dogs into licensed premises where the sale of illegal drugs was suspected;

  • the theft of quad bikes from Grindleton (the offenders had now been apprehended); and

  • the recovery of stolen property (such as a horse box with a value of c£8k, or from caravans).

The parish councillors present explored a number of topics relating to the officers’ activities:

  • it was commented that rural policing presented particular challenges which differed from those of urban environments. For instance, one such challenge was the general lack of access to Auto Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), a tool which was particularly helpful given that most criminals in the Ribble Valley did not live in the area but travelled into / out of it. Similarly, the relative lack of CCTV coverage in the Borough was a hinderance. On this issue, members discussed a number of potential funding streams which may be open to the Parish Council and it was agreed that a formal discussion on this topic would be held at a future meeting;

  • the importance of local knowledge when policing an area as large as the Ribble Valley. The officers confirmed that they used a variety of aids to assist them in this regard, such as detailed maps and the “what3words” navigational system;

  • the impact on the rural road system caused by heavy goods vehicles and inappropriate parking. Although in many ways these were matters best dealt with by the County Council or other bodies, the team offered to do what they could to assist; and

  • members provided details of a number of locations where drug dealing was thought to have taken place, which the officers agreed to monitor as resources permitted.

The officers kindly provided contact details which residents are invited to use if they would wish to approach thew team directly. The team can be contacted on the following email address:

Alternatively, problems can be reported via the front desk at Clitheroe Police Station (now re-opened) or through the 999 / 101 numbers as appropriate.

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