Investment in specialist resources and technology will make rural Hampshire and the Isle of Wight “impenetrable” to criminals.

This is according to Hampshire police and crime commissioner, Donna Jones, and Isle of Wight chief constable, Scott Chilton.

The rural landscape and the types of offending taking place within these communities means drones are a vital information and intelligence gathering tool to scan large areas of land, checking for stolen property and suspicious vehicles, Jones said.

The Hampshire crime commissioner said aerial oversight allows the large open areas of land to be monitored and criminals tracked to try and obtain a successful resolution.

Jones previously provided £25,000 for redeployable automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, which have since been installed.

These are being deployed to hotspot areas identified by intelligence analysis, and can be moved quickly and efficiently as the intelligence picture changes to identify and deal with those travelling to the area to commit crime.

Jones has also agreed to a £1 million investment in intelligence gathering capabilities to identify offenders in her 2024/25 budget.

‘These crimes have to stop’

Jones said: “Agricultural machinery and vehicle theft, hare coursing and poaching, theft of livestock, and fly-tipping are just some of the crimes found to have devastating consequences for those who reside, and own businesses, in the countryside.

“These crimes have to stop. Tackling rural crime is one of my top priorities in my Police and Crime Plan, I have invested heavily in intelligence gathering capabilities so the force can identify and take action against the career criminals who intentionally victimise rural communities, seeing them as an easy option.

“The increase in 650 extra officers over the last three years, as well as my announcement in January of a further 75 officers for 2024-25 means rural communities will see police more than ever before.”

Scott Chilton said: “As a force, with large rural areas combined with busy urban towns and cities, it’s crucial that we are using all of the tools at our disposal to make our communities a hostile environment for criminals.

“Alongside putting more officers and staff in the places where they can be most effective, we also need to have the right information and technology to enable us to detect, deter and disrupt criminality.

“I have already made changes to the structure of the force so that our neighbourhood teams are targeting the criminals causing the greatest impact, alongside their response colleagues and our dedicated local criminal investigators.”

Local farmer, Charlie Hobbs, said: “It’s not just towns and cities that experience organised crime, but our villages and countryside too.

“Crimes like theft and vandalism have a huge impact on farmers, where often their business is their home as well.

“Those working in the rural economy often have to worry about the safety of their crops, livestock, machinery but most importantly their families, so I am reassured to see such action being taken.”

Hobbs said he is “really glad” to see the use of extra officers as well as the deployment of technology and gathering intelligence in the Hampshire countryside.

“With these techniques in place, the police can help to identify those organised criminal groups and bring them to justice, while hopefully also deterring those who think rural areas are easy targets.

“I think all of us in rural and farming communities can be reassured that the crimes we are faced with are being policed with the same gravitas as those in our towns and cities.”