Joining forces to tackle crime on Dartmoor

Thursday 7th April 2016 7:14 am

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DEVON and Cornwall Police are teaming up with Dartmoor National Park and other partner agencies to tackle crime across the moor throughout the summer.

Local officers will be part of a multi-agency operation called Moorwatch, which aims to prevent and disrupt criminals operating in isolated rural areas, particularly at car parks and beauty spots surrounding the national park.

The moor historically sees a seasonal rise in crime in the summer months with an influx of visitors to the region. The operation will see dedicated regular high-visibility patrols tackling a range of rural crimes common to the moorland.

They include thefts from vehicles, livestock theft, the anti-social use of vehicles, wildlife crime, theft of farm equipment and machinery, fly-tipping, plus road safety issues.

Sergeant William Young said: ‘Rural crime is a priority that we are working hard to address. Although crime on the moor is relatively low in comparison to other parts of the country, the types of crime are very specific.

‘Tourists flock to the area in the summer and are vulnerable to car crime as they often leave vehicles in remote spots. Vehicle crime isn’t the only problem on the moor which also suffers from a range of crimes such as the theft of animals and farm equipment and fly tipping.

‘We will be maximising our visibility and presence with dedicated, targeted regular patrols of the area.

‘By working with partner agencies we can maximise intelligence and increase our eyes and ears at vulnerable spots on Dartmoor.’

Police officers, Dartmoor National Park Authority and other partner agencies will work together closely to educate visitors as well as enforce the message that Dartmoor is not a place for criminals.

Robert Steemson, head ranger for the national park, said: ‘The Dartmoor National Park Authority, through its ranger service and voluntary wardens, works very closely on the ground with the police and other partner agencies in an ongoing role of education to visitors about many topics across Dartmoor.

‘Unfortunately recently, there has been a reported increase of thefts from parked vehicles in remote locations across Devon.

‘The Moorwatch scheme aims to raise the awareness to the public with regard to rural crime in three main ways – by undertaking high visibility patrols to deter and potentially disturb criminals, providing ongoing press and media information high-lighting thefts from vehicles, whilst also providing Moorwatch leaflets — that you can pick up from Dartmoor National Park visitor centres — to leave in your vehicle which specifically say “no valuables have been left in this vehicle” which deter criminals.

‘We also urge visitors not to leave any valuables in their vehicles while visiting Dartmoor. The experience of having your vehicle broken in to is not pleasant and could easily be avoided by some simple precautions.’

Sergeant Young said: ‘We will be reminding visitors to protect their property by removing valuables from their vehicles and asking them to be vigilant when enjoying the natural beauty of the region. 

‘We would like to encourage users of the moor to report suspicious activity or incidents promptly to maximise our ability to deal with it effectively. When crime is reported we would like to assure people that we will do everything within our power to effectively bring offenders to justice.’

In emergencies, when life is threatened or when a criminal is still in the area, call the police by dialling 999 or 112.

Crimes and incidents of a less urgent nature should be reported through the central enquiry desk on 101.

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