Ashbourne police officers have teamed up with their Staffordshire colleagues in a cross border anti-crime scheme. Carolyn Bointon and photographer Ian Hodkingson were invited to join them to find out more.
ASHBOURNE has suffered with a number of shed break-ins and outbuilding burglaries over the last month and villages in Staffordshire have experienced similar problems.
Now a team of officers – three from Ashbourne and four from Staffordshire – has been formed to tackle the problem.
PC Paul Bolam, Staffordshire Moorlands rural beat officer, explained: "Criminals don't respect county borders, do they?
"It's not as if they turn around just because they are heading out of Derbyshire and going into Staffordshire.
"So my colleagues at Ashbourne and I decided to set up this pro-active policing initiative to share information and do roadside vehicle checks together."
The team was briefed on the exercise's objectives:
To stop and check vans or suspicious looking vehicles using the country lanes.
To visit farms and offer advice on how to protect property.
To have a highly visible police presence in the area to deter potential thieves.
To share information and knowledge on known criminals and vehicles.
And it wasn't long before we pulled up our first white van. PC Paul Bolam and PC Jamie Millard, from Ashbourne, were efficient in checking the driver's details, tax and insurance, as well as looking inside to make sure he had no stolen goods. His story checked out and we went on our way.
PC John Bointon, also from Ashbourne, stopped a Transit van on the Rocester by-pass and, after a thorough check inside, the driver was thanked for his co-operation and allowed to continue with his journey.
The two-car teams spent more than six hours on the operation and covered a huge area – from Cheadle to Buxton, Ashbourne to Long Lane, Cubley to Rocester and outlying villages including Sudbury, Alton, Ellastone and Ednaston.
The two forces also use Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology to alert the teams to vehicles known for previous offences.
Car registrations are instantly checked against lists from the Police National Computer, including vehicles of interest to the police for crimes such as burglary or theft of petrol.
Uninsured drivers will be identified from data provided by the insurance industry, vehicles without a valid MoT test certificate will be flagged, and those without a valid tax disc or with unlawful number plates will also be identified.
PC Bolam said: "It's been a successful operation. We have checked more than ten vehicles and given security advice to farmers and homeowners in the area.
"We know that criminals use these country lanes to get about and, by being visible and on patrol, it can be a huge deterrent to criminals.
"We will be working together on this kind of joint initiative regularly."