HAMPSHIRE police has teamed up with other forces in the south east as part of intensified efforts to tackle rural crime and disrupt active offenders.

The South East Partnership Against Rural Crime (SEPARC) consists of the constabulary’s dedicated country watch team, working with the specialist rural crime teams from Thames Valley Police, Sussex Police, Surrey Police, and Kent Police.

Part of the operation, from February 26 to March 1, took place in the north of the county, with a second group of officers focusing their efforts at Portsmouth International Port.

The team in the north based themselves at Sutton Scotney off the A34. Officers conducted patrols and stop checks on vehicles, in particular those transporting FMPV. This work was conducted along the A34 up to Whitchurch, west on the A303 to Andover, and on the A30 west towards Stockbridge.

Meanwhile, the team at the ferry port in Portsmouth sought to intercept criminals making attempts to transport stolen goods to the continent.

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On Thursday, February 29, more than 100 vehicles were stopped, comprising of a mix of HGVs, vans, trailers, cars, and vehicles with abnormal loads and carrying plant machinery.

Thorough checks were conducted and no stolen goods were identified. Other traffic related offences were identified with six prohibition notices being served by the DVSA for vehicles being driven in a dangerous condition.

The team also conducted a slightly more unusual check of a vehicle at the ferry port which was exporting live animals, namely some monkeys.

Inspector Cath MacDonald said: “Teams have worked tirelessly over the course of the week drawing from the skills and expertise of specialists in their field – whether this be the individual rural crime teams involved, or the RPU Proactive and CVU officers who were policing the road networks.

“The contributions from all teams and Forces each day has proven that SEPARC can work extremely effectively as a partnership to bolster visible police presence in the areas where intelligence tells us transient criminals are operating. I am grateful to the ferry port staff, and everyone involved in the partnership work this week which has helped generate further intelligence for us to act upon.

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“The efforts of Country Watch, with support from other local policing teams, of course continue day in and day out to address the full spectrum of criminality affecting our rural areas.”

ACC Lucy Hutson, Rural Policing Lead for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary, said: “Rural crime has an enormous impact on those affected, as it often sees local businesses suffer serious financial loss, and can destroy the livelihoods of hardworking farmers. 

“We are fortunate to have some of the most beautiful parts of the country on our doorstep in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and it’s so important that people can live in, work in and visit our rural spaces without fear of being targeted by criminals.

“Our dedicated Country Watch officers work closely with other policing teams across the two counties all year round to tackle seasonal crime trends, provide support to victims, and relentlessly pursue offenders blighting the countryside.

“This week of action has given us the opportunity to utilise the skills and expertise of specialist policing teams from our neighbouring forces, to bring the fight to criminals who operate across county borders in the south east.”