Fed member gives insight into rural crime role


PUBLISHED 25 Jun 2024

IN News

Sergeant Tom Nuttall was brought up on a farm so he understands the impact that rural crime can have on people, businesses and communities.

Now he’s leading Cambridgeshire Police’s Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT), which is ‘punching above its weight’ and achieving some fantastic successes.

RCAT, which deals with agricultural, environmental, heritage, hunting, and wildlife crime, recovered almost £1 million-worth of stolen property last year.

The team also seized 163 vehicles used in crime, attended more than 1,700 incidents and prosecuted 83 suspects, between April last year and March.

And in October the team won Rural Initiative of the Year at the annual UK Wildlife & Rural Crime Conference after joining forces with the National Rural Crime Unit (NRCU) in the summer for Operation Walrus, which targeted criminals stealing GPS guidance systems used by farmers across the country.

Tom, a Cambridgeshire Police Federation member, said: “I was brought up on a farm and in the countryside, so policing the niche crime types that come with rural areas hits home to me on an even more personal note.

“For a small team, we definitely punch above our weight when it comes to getting positive results.

“Across the county, business burglaries with an agricultural and heritage element fell by 33 per cent while coursing, lamping, and poaching continue to be low across the county following years of high demand.

“The low coursing, lamping, and poaching figures are largely down to our introduction of regional community protection warnings and notices, essentially making the East of England borderless – and which is now being duplicated across the country.”

Tom, who has been a police officer since 2011, joined RCAT in 2018. His team is made up of nine PCs, one PCSO and five police support volunteers.

Almost half of the population of Cambridgeshire (47 per cent), live in rural communities compared to the national average of 17 per cent.

“This gives Cambridgeshire Constabulary a challenge of policing a mixture of both urban and rural crime types,” Tom said.

“I have been with RCAT since 2018 and have seen over the years that prioritising rural crime isn’t high on the agenda, both locally and nationally,” he said.

“Me and the team have been vocal in getting the support needed to police rural areas proportionately.

“We have worked with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) to help lobby those needed to make the big changes to support our work.

“We have also worked with the other police forces, enforcement agencies and organisations around the country to share best practices and information – including the newly formed National Rural Crime Unit (NRCU).

“Looking to the future, we will be investing even more in technology to prevent crime and help prosecute criminals.

“We will also continue to seek local and national support in ensuring that rural communities have their fair share of policing and investment is made in doing so.”