A dedicated rural and wildlife crime team has been extended to tackle crime in Derbyshire's rural and farming communities.
The team, which previously operated in the Derbyshire Dales, will tackle acquisitive crime such as the theft of farming equipment, the persecution of protected species and the illegal trade in endangered species.
The team will also work on area-specific wildlife and rural issues.
The expansion has been made possible by extra funding from the increased council tax precept, which was secured by Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Hardyal Dhindsa.
Mr Dhindsa, who has been supporting calls for increased policing of rural areas since his election, said: “I have listened to rural communities up and down the county and know they have felt unfairly penalised as a result of the funding cuts of the last nine years.
“Now, thanks to the increase in the amount derived from the local council tax, we are able to boost the capacity of our rural crime team which will make a visible, dedicated difference to the way rural communities can be policed.
“This is what people told me they wanted and I’m delighted for them that we have been able to launch this specialist county-wide team so early in the financial year.”
The newly-expanded team, based at Matlock police station, has seven PCs who are led by a rural crime sergeant and overseen by an inspector.
It is also further reinforced by special constables and police staff volunteers who have a rural crime focus.
Additional funding from the precept has also funded new resources such as two dedicated drones, two 4X4 vehicles, a Polaris Ranger Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) and staff.
The UTV is not a day-to-day response vehicle, but rather a specialist piece of kit that will allow rural crime officers to patrol previously inaccessible locations. It will also ensure that people and equipment can be transported across remote terrain in emergencies.
Safer neighbourhood officers from across the county are also being trained to respond to the rural and wildlife issues in their area.
Peter Goodman, Chief Constable, said: “We are committed to making sure we are as responsive as possible to the bespoke needs of our rural communities.
“It is easy, when we have nearly 2000 calls for service a day, to neglect the very real needs of those living and working in the rural environment.
“I am delighted to be able to provide a county wide rural crime team who will work day in day out with our communities prevent crime, deal with antisocial behaviour and protect the most vulnerable using their skills, experience and the latest technology.”