More police officers are set to be recruited in the Thames Valley Police’s Rural Crime Taskforce.

Ten new officers will join the ranks to continue its pledge to make the area a hostile environment for rural crime.

Currently made up of 10 officers, two sergeants and an inspector, it partners with communities throughout the region to tackle serious organised rural crime and make rural areas safer since its launch in March 2022.

Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber wants to enhance rural crime fighting resources in his 2024/2025 policing budget, owing to the taskforce’s profound impact.

He said: "I am pleased to see the impact that the taskforce is already having.

"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.

"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 creation, the taskforce has confiscated more than £5 million worth of property including vehicles, drugs, plant machinery and tools.

It has also concluded hundreds of investigations and provided crime prevention advice.

Inspector Stuart Hutchings, lead of Rural Crime Taskforce, 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."

Nathan Boyd, NFU Berks, Bucks and Oxon County Adviser, said the NFU supported rural crime commitment that would help to protect family farms from criminals.

He said: “Farmers and rural communities alike will be pleased to see further investment in the rural crime taskforce.

“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.”