Digital rural mapping system launched in North Wales

North Wales Police has launched a pioneering new scheme to create a digital map of the region to help the force combat rural crime.

Mar 14, 2013
By Paul Jacques
L-R: Alison Lowe, John Robins, chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, and Mayor Tracy Brabin

North Wales Police has launched a pioneering new scheme to create a digital map of the region to help the force combat rural crime.

The rural mapping system will feature information such as land ownership and livestock details. The information is accessed via tablet computers and will assists officers called to the scene.

The pilot system has been developed by the Rural Watch team following months of community and policing work.

The first interactive mapping tablet was handed to its local police community support officer (PCSO) Sofia Iftikar at the end of last month.

It is hoped that the digital map loaded onto the tablet will assist the Esclusham and Ponciau rural policing team to tackle rural-specific crime.

Mary Huxley, part of the Rural Watch team involved in the development, explained: “The map details significant information such as land ownership, cattle and flock numbers and whether hunting is permitted on the land. The aim is that a police officer or PCSO attending a rural crime will have this tablet to hand, making it quicker to orientate themselves to the outlying rural areas and giving them immediate access to data.”

Paula Williams, also a Rural Watch team member added: “If there is theft of farm machinery, sheep worrying or a breach in a livestock boundary, it will help the attending police team have immediate access to know who the field belongs to. It’s important that as farmers and landowners we can react quickly to contain livestock, ascertain illegal hunting or spread word quickly of a machinery theft through the OWL (Online Watch Link) alert system. This digital map will help the community and police teams do this.”

The idea came about when the locals attended the monthly police meeting in Aberoer with PCSO Iftikar.   

“We are very excited about the potential of this scheme. It has been a community-driven project by residents who want to tackle crime specific to them in a proactive way,” said PCSO Iftikar.

“They have a can-do attitude which has led to this great development as it is important we have as much information as possible and as quickly as possible, which this mapping scheme provides.”

MP Susan Elan Jones has also supported the scheme and said: “I am extremely interested in this development and whole-heartedly support initiatives which help North Wales Police. I am sure this initiative will inspire other communities and assist many other rural police forces in the future.”

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