Thames Valley Police’s rural crime taskforce is set to expand with the recruitment of 10 additional officers to the team.

Thames Valley police and crime commissioner, Matthew Barber, committed to an uplift in officers to tackle rural crime in his 2024/25 policing budget.

The taskforce, which was launched in March 2022, is currently made up of 10 officers, two sergeants and an inspector.

On the recruitment of new officers, Barber said:

“The vast geography of the Thames Valley and high proportion of rural areas will always be a challenge to delivering visible policing, but this additional investment will support the taskforce in strengthening its response in detecting and stopping criminal activity and organised crime groups operating in our rural communities.”

Since its launch, the taskforce has seized more than £5 million worth of property, including vehicles, drugs, plant machinery and tools, as well as completing hundreds of investigations and providing crime prevention advice.

“I am pleased to see the impact that the taskforce is already having,” Barber said.

“It demonstrates the importance of a dedicated, visible and robust policing response in tackling rural crime which I can see is making a real difference to the safety and security of farms, rural industries and our most isolated communities.”

Rural crime

Thames Valley Police rural crime taskforce lead inspector, Stuart Hutchings, said: “We have been working extremely hard since the taskforce’s inception over two years ago to make the Thames Valley a hostile environment for rural criminals.

“The additional officers funded by the PCC will only help us to increase this work and support victims even more effectively.”

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Berks, Bucks and Oxon county advisor, Nathan Boyd, said the announcement was welcome and the union supported any rural crime commitment that would help to protect family farms from criminals. 

“Farmers and rural communities alike will be pleased to see further investment in the rural crime taskforce,” he said.

“In the last two years, farmers have seen the benefit of having a dedicated, specialist unit which has made a real difference to communities that often felt forgotten.

“This investment in the taskforce sends a clear message that tackling rural crime is a priority across the Thames Valley.”