Andover Advertiser reporter Will Turner spent Monday morning with Stockbridge Police to get a feel for some of the special challenges facing the thin blue line in rural areas.
FOR Stockbridge Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) the daily challenges they face can often differ strongly from those in the hustle and bustle of urban areas.
Non-dwelling and rural burglaries are just a few of the challenges facing the local force, and detecting and preventing these crimes is made harder with the rural geography of their patch.
Police Sergeant Russell Hodges, of SNT Stockbridge, said: “Stockbridge and the surrounding rural communities do suffer from and are currently suffering from burglaries of outbuildings, sheds and barns.
“My team and I are actively patrolling areas that have suffered such offences and are assisted by Andover Police officers in order to catch these criminals.
“These proactive patrols are intelligence-led in order to try to identify the offenders and prevent further offending.
“My appeal to the rural community is to please pick up the telephone and report any suspicious sightings of any persons or vehicles, no matter how insignificant you may think your information is.”
The values of strong community relationships and maintaining public confidence sit high on the agenda for SNT Stockbridge in tackling crime.
Officers PC John Viney and PCSO Lisa Flowers, from Stockbridge, explained the relationship they have with the local community.
PCSO Flowers said: “When we left the old station here in Stockbridge they could have moved us into Andover but Stockbridge is a busy area.
“We keep a very good relationship with the community and make sure that the local people can have confidence in us so they can feel safe and see that crime is tackled.”
PC Viney said: “We have a very strong relationship with the local community and those in more rural places. These are made what they are through our schemes such as Country Watch and Farm Watch, which keeps everyone integrated and informed.”
These schemes help build links between the force and the local farming communities.
Country Watch has been established across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight with the main aims of reducing rural crime, reassuring rural residents and improving communication and engagement.
School visits are also part of the work of the Stockbridge force, educating and informing children of the dangers surrounding them. FAKE (the Firearms And Knife crime Education programme) presentations are of particular importance with children in rural areas more likely to be around weapons.
New technology continues to improve the quality of policing and this is no different in Stockbridge. With the use of mobile data terminals, officers can update their systems on the move, meaning more time is spent on patrol rather than sat behind desks.
Talking about their work in Stockbridge, PC Viney said: “For me it is fantastic to go out and about, talking to people and helping them, as well as really feeling part of the community.”
PCSO Flowers also loves her work. She said: “I really love my job. Whether it is simply talking to the public, making a vulnerable person feel more secure and safe or educating children at schools, it is great to make a real difference.”
To report suspicious activity or to have your property marked which can assist with identifying the owner and the offender, contact the Stockbridge Safer Neighbourhood Team or dial 101 and leave a message to be contacted.