Northumbria Police are hosting their very first Rural Policing Open Day this weekend.

On Sunday (September 19), members of the public are encouraged to go along to the event at Kirkley Hall from 10am to 3pm to say ‘hello’ to local crime fighters and learn how they keep communities safe.

Officers have teamed up with a host of rural partners including the RSPCA, Northumberland Mountain Rescue, Northumberland National Park and Forestry England for the event.

Visitors will be given the chance to sit behind the wheel of a police car and learn its inner workings, take photos with some of the specialist equipment used by rural officers in day-to-day work and witness a live demonstration from Mountain Rescuers.

Great North Air Ambulance Service, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Datatag and many more will also be at the event with interesting equipment for families to explore.

Superintendent Andrew Huddleston, national lead for theft of agricultural machinery and equipment, said: “It’s a chance to come along and understand how we all work together with the different agencies, whether that be national parks, Forestry England, the fire service, or mountain rescue teams, to make rural Northumberland as safe an area as it is.

“I do want to remind people that it is one of the safest places in the whole of country to live and work, but that’s through hard work – that is the case.

“And that’s not about us, that is about everybody that works together to do their bit.”

Supt Huddleston said the sharing of information with the rural crime network that is set up in the county helps the force “massively”.

He said: “There’s definitely some really good examples of how the local community can work with the police to make it safer.”

He cited Belsay farmer George Common, who was recognised at the Police Public Bravery Awards in 2018 for his part in catching a paedophile who was abusing a young boy in a car on his land.

Speaking about their work, Rural Policing Inspector Garry Neill explained the team focus on five key issues; theft of plant, theft of quads and ATV’s, fuel theft, equine theft, and livestock theft.

“Primarily plant theft and quad theft, they would be the main things we would look at,” Insp Neill said.

On how they tackle those issues, he said they currently have a number of investigations ongoing.

“We have an operation which is focusing on an organised crime group who have been going around the North East and stealing plants, so that’s a significant piece of work that we’re all involved in,” Insp Neill said.

“We do a lot of proactive stuff as well so for example Operation Checkpoint, we did one on Thursday (September 9) night.”

Operation Checkpoint targets suspected criminal activity in rural communities.

Insp Neill said “We’ve got 53 rural crime volunteers. They’ll come out on Operation Checkpoint, we generally start as it’s getting dark, and they’ll work throughout the night with us and act as our eyes and ears.

“We’ve had some really good successes from that. We’ve had a number of quads recovered, a number of people arrested as a direct result of that operation.

“We’re trying to be as proactive as we can.”

Insp Neill said anyone interested in becoming a rural crime volunteer should visit the Citizens in Police section on the Northumbria Police website.