The Thames Valley Rural Crime Taskforce is the second winner of a prestigious national award from the Construction Equipment Association for being the most proactive rural crime team in the UK.
The Rob Oliver Award, for excellence in the fight against construction plant and agricultural machinery theft, was awarded to the taskforce for being the most proactive rural task force as the team collectively made over 120 checks against the secure CESAR database.
Three taskforce officers also received CESAR Champion awards for identifying different stolen vehicles through the CESAR database.
Construction Equipment Association (CEA) Chief Executive Suneeta Johal said: “The CEA has a long standing and strong commitment to supporting the UK police force in the fight against machinery theft and we would like to congratulate the Thames Valley Police for their outstanding success.”
The force launched the taskforce in March 2022 to make the Thames Valley a hostile place for those who commit rural crimes.
The taskforce consists of a team of dedicated officers, as well as intelligence support, who work tirelessly with Thames Valley Police’s partners, drone units, and the Joint Operations Unit to tackle serious and organised rural crime.
Presenting the award to the taskforce was Rob Oliver MBE, Director of CEE Ltd, former Chief Executive of the CEA and who the award was named after. He said, “In a time when police forces are under increasing scrutiny, it’s great to celebrate the good work of the team at Thames Valley. They have shown a great commitment to combatting machine theft by using the tools made available to them via the CESAR database. It’s a good example of a police partnership with business to help root out crime.”
Superintendent Andy Huddleston, NPCC Strategic Lead for agri and construction machinery theft, was also present at the presentation. He said: “As the NPCC lead for agri and construction machinery theft I work with forces across the UK and what the Thames Valley Rural Crime Team are doing to tackle organised crime is outstanding. The recovery of a large value of stolen machinery is excellent but their persistent pursuit of criminals is utterly impressive. Receiving the Rob Oliver award is an accolade both the team and Thames Valley Police should be very proud of as it is the public and industry we are here to protect recognising their achievements.”
The taskforce is successfully working to support rural communities and tackle crime. In 2022, there were over 400 completed investigations where 30.4% achieved a positive outcome. Around £1.3m worth of trailers, plant machinery, caravans, power tools and other equipment have been recovered by the team. They have been proactively working with the Forensic Investigation Unit to address rises in thefts of GPS systems within tractor satellite navigation systems. This means the Forensic Investigation Unit is able to attend these incidents when they have taken place, helping the rural communities recover from the impact these offences, which can have severe consequences on the livelihoods of those affected.
Taskforce Inspector Stuart Hutchings said: “Thames Valley Police Rural Crime Taskforce is focused on tacking all types of Rural Crime within Thames Valley. Since the creation of the taskforce 12 months ago, the team have been dedicated to protecting our Rural Communities and creating a hostile environment for those that commit Rural Crime. The Rural Crime Taskforce has recovered over £1.3 million pounds of stolen property and the majority of this stolen property has been plant and farm machinery. The stolen property recovered has been stolen from all over the country and we have recovered property from 17 different police forces.
“The taskforce is working in partnership with all our neighbouring forces and supporting each other in the development of intelligence and carrying out of proactive operations to target Rural Crime. Our partnership working with agencies, such as the RSPCA, the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, Environment Agency and Joint Unit of Waste Crime has allowed us to focus on offenders and emerging crime trends.
“Working with the CLA, NFU and construction industry, we are highlighting crime prevention advice and the importance for residents to record all property details, report all incidents to police and review all security regularly to help deter criminals.”
Matthew Barber, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The Rural Crime Taskforce has had a significant impact in the 12 months since it was formed and it is great to see this recognised with a national award. Rural crime can devastate communities and the work of the taskforce demonstrates the difference that can be made with a dedicated proactive policing approach. Well done to all Thames Valley officers and staff who have contributed to its success.”
CESAR Champion awards
The Construction Equipment Association (CEA) launched its CESAR Champion initiative in 2020 to recognise the efforts of officials who use the CESAR technology to identify a stolen piece of machinery. In an effort to encourage more engagement with the CESAR Security Scheme, the award is now being given to any officer who completes 10 checks on agricultural or construction machines or ATVs protected with the security system.
Three TVP officers also received a CESAR Champion award
- PC James Gunner received the Green Agri badge for identifying a stolen New Holland tractor
- PC Huw Kime received the Blue Construction badge for identifying a stolen dumper
- PC Dan Smith received the Red ATV badge for identifying a stolen ATV
Taskforce Sergeant Chris Ruff said: “It is really pleasing that three members of our team have received CESAR Champion awards, all for different types of vehicles and all from recoveries that happened in the same week. We have worked hard to train our staff in plant and agricultural vehicle identification, most of them having little or no knowledge on the subject when the team was set up a year ago.
Criminals are acutely aware that we are on the lookout for stolen machines and will take steps to try to hide, disguise or alter security markings. With the help of funding through the CESAR scheme, all of our staff now have a nationally recognised qualification and the training has really paid off with over a million pounds worth of recoveries in the last year. This has improved our ability to detect stolen equipment and these recoveries are a direct result of the technology that CESAR uses. We encourage owners to register equipment with the CESAR scheme, which is the nationally recognised scheme for plant and agricultural machines. It not only gives machines an identity but also allows the police to contact owners 24 hours a day, seven days a week if we locate it.”
CESAR, powered by Datatag, and owned by the Construction Equipment Association, can be fitted to any construction or agriculture machine that is at risk of theft. The tamper-evident label acts as an initial deterrent and the multiple layers of technology help to identify the machine. All the owner and machine details are stored on the CESAR secure database for police to double-check any machine quickly and easily. For more information, visit cesarscheme.org.
Picture – (L-R) NPCC Strategic Lead for agri and construction machinery theft Superintendent Andy Huddleston, Thames Valley Police Assistant Chief Constable Tim De Meyer, Rob Oliver MBE, Thames Valley Police Rural Crime Taskforce Sergeant Chris Ruff, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber and Datatag Police Liaison team member, Peter Wilson
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