Thames Valley Police's Rural Crime Taskforce will recruit 10 additional officers to its team.

Launched in March 2022, the taskforce, consisting of a team of officers and intelligence support, aims to confront and reduce rural crime while making the Thames Valley a hostile environment for criminals.

Comprising of 10 officers, two sergeants, and an inspector, the team works with partners and communities throughout the Thames Valley to combat serious, organised rural crime and bolster safety across rural areas.

The taskforce has seized more than £5 million worth of property, including vehicles, drugs, plant machinery, and tools since its inception.

The team has also successfully completed hundreds of investigations and has provided crime prevention advice to hundreds of residents.

Following these results, police and crime commissioner Matthew Barber confirmed an increase in officers within his 2024/2025 police funding budget to further combat rural crime.

Witney Gazette: Thames Valley police commissioner Matthew BarberThames Valley police commissioner Matthew Barber (Image: Natalie Jezzard)

Mr Barber said: "I am pleased to see the impact that the taskforce is already having.

"It demonstrates the importance of a dedicated, visible and robust policing response in tackling rural crime which I can see is making a real difference to the safety and security of farms, rural industries and our most isolated communities.

"The vast geography of the Thames Valley and high proportion of rural areas will always be a challenge to delivering visible policing, but this additional investment will support the taskforce in strengthening its response in detecting and stopping criminal activity and organised crime groups operating in our rural communities."

Witney Gazette: Stuart HutchingsStuart Hutchings (Image: TVP)

The taskforce's lead inspector, Stuart Hutchings, said: “We have been working extremely hard since the taskforce’s inception over two years ago to make the Thames Valley a hostile environment for rural criminals.

“The additional officers funded by the police and crime commissioner will only help us to increase this work and support victims even more effectively.”

Nathan Boyd, the National Farmers Union Berks, Bucks and Oxon county adviser, said: "Farmers and rural communities alike will be pleased to see further investment in the rural crime taskforce.

"In the last two years, farmers have seen the benefit of having a dedicated, specialist unit which has made a real difference to communities that often felt forgotten.

"This investment in the taskforce sends a clear message that tackling rural crime is a priority across the Thames Valley."

The addition of the ten new officers to the taskforce will extend the team's reach and influence to crack down on rural crime, providing a safer living environment for rural homeowners.