Derbyshire’s rural crime team ‘most proactive’ in the UK against machinery theft

Derbyshire Constabulary’s rural crime team has been recognised as the UK’s most proactive in tackling machinery theft.

Dec 13, 2023
By Paul Jacques
The rural crime team and Bakewell safer neighbourhood team

The team was awarded the 2023 Rob Oliver Award from the Construction Equipment Association (CEA) for excellence in the fight against construction plant and agricultural machinery theft.

The industry award, first presented in 2021, is given annually to the most proactive rural crime team in the UK.

Winning forces must meet strict criteria based on the use and support of the construction industry’s official security marking and registration scheme, Construction Equipment Security and Registration Scheme (CESAR) database.

Derbyshire’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) Angelique Foster said the team deserves “full credit for its hard work and efforts” that has seen a significant reduction in rural crime.

She recently invested £15,000 in the county-wide roll-out of the CESAR scheme, giving farmers an opportunity to have their vehicles, machinery and equipment securely marked with the industry standard ‘Security Systems’ and ‘Datatag’ products to help deter thieves.

The scheme is already active in North East Derbyshire, Bolsover and South Derbyshire.

The Rob Oliver Award measures the success of rural crime teams against the number of machine checks made on the CESAR database, the number of recoveries made and any other activity associated with the use and promotion of the scheme.

Derbyshire’s rural crime team was singled out for its “exceptional effort” to promote CESAR security to the farming community in Derbyshire. It was also among the top three UK police forces nationally for making checks on CESAR marked machinery.

More than £2 million worth of machinery has been protected in Derbyshire through the team’s efforts with more installations of CESAR happening every day through a network of dealers across Derbyshire.

In addition, since the rural crime team has been in place, supported by the rural police community support officer, there has been a marked improvement in engagement with rural communities.

This is evidenced by the increase in subscriptions to the Derbyshire Alert FarmWatch Group, which now has more than 2,800 members from just 500 in 2022, said Ms Foster.

Congratulating the team, Ms Foster said: “I am proud of this national award. The team deserves full credit for their hard work and efforts.

“Our rural communities deserve a first-class response to the issues that threaten their safety and livelihoods. Derbyshire’s Rural Crime Team works hard to listen and understand these unique problems, and takes robust proactive action, alongside partners, to prevent more of these crimes and bring rural criminals to justice.

“Significant progress has been made in the way our force tackles rural crime, with a notable effort to strengthen the team and additional funding from my budget invested in the roll out of new resources and equipment to protect agricultural businesses from theft and reunite victims with their stolen property quickly. These new tools have also been highly valuable for the retrieval of evidence to bring more offenders before the courts.

“Machinery theft costs farmers and agricultural businesses millions of pounds every year. They deserve the full support of the police in preventing these disruptive and costly losses.

“I am pleased Derbyshire’s Rural Crime Team is recognised as the best in the UK for its proactive work and will continue to push the force for further improvements.”

Recent data presented at the PCC’s Performance Scrutiny Meeting showed residential burglary rates across rural areas have fallen by 17.5 per cent and business burglary rates by 50.9 per cent when comparing 2022/23 data with 2019/20 (the period prior to Ms Foster’s election). Meanwhile, vehicle crime in rural Derbyshire (including agricultural vehicles) has reduced by 6.2 per cent.

The CESAR Scheme uses several types of markings to keep property secure. These include visible identification labels, microdots, forensic DNA markers and electronic transponders which are fitted in hidden locations on the protected vehicle or property. Each element provides an identification unique to each machine. This means the police can quickly and easily confirm ownership.

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