‘The weird, the wacky and the wild’: On patrol with the Herts police ROST team

Inspector Jason Thorne - who heads up the ROST overall, Sergeant Jamie Bartlett – who leads the ROS

Inspector Jason Thorne - who heads up the ROST overall, Sergeant Jamie Bartlett – who leads the ROST team, PC Jos Bartlett, PC Simon Tibbett and PC Amanda Matthews. - Credit: Archant

If you think that crime only happens on the mean streets or our towns and cities, think again – there are plenty of crooks out in the country, too.

For the past 3½ years the Herts police Rural Operational Support Team have been combing the county’s countryside to clear up crime.

During a patrol one wet and windy morning, PC Simon Tibbett told the Comet: “We deal with the weird and the wacky and the wild. We do tend to get the obscure.”

The five-strong team deals with any incidents concerning wildlife, agriculture or heritage sites and is made up of Insp Jason Thorne, Sgt Jamie Bartlett, PC Jos Bartlett, PC Simon Tibbett and PC Amanda Matthews.

Officers spend their days patrolling winding country roads in their 4x4s, which comes with built-in wifi hotspots so they can file reports from the road.

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Typically they can deal with anything from badger baiting and hare coursing to the theft of red diesel fuel and nighthawking.

Stolen farm or plant equipment, criminal damage and the theft of scrap metal or lead from historical buildings are also regularly on their ‘to do’ list.

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The team also organises tack and farming equipment marking days to prevent thefts and make items easier to trace.

They also offer support to police safer neighbourhood teams when necessary.

PC Tibbett said: “People tend to think crime only happens in the more populated areas, but that isn’t true.”

More than most police units, their patches are affected by the changing seasons.

“We are always looking at season crime trends,” said PC Tibbett.

“Hare coursing happens after crops have been cut in the autumn and we look at making sure turkey farms have enough security in the run-up to Christmas to stop thefts.”

Recently he said officers were called to reports of youngsters shooting at pheasants and several reports of sheep being attacked by dogs.

PC Tibbett’s varied brief also sees him keeping an eye on the illegal taxidermy and ivory trade in the county.

“We were called out on a job to a report about a turtle – but it turned out to be a really good fake,” he said.

The officer joined the force 13 years ago, and has spent the last three with ROST.

“It was something different that I hadn’t done before and it is nice to be able to get out, see the county and support the rural community,” he added.

If you would like to speak to a member of the ROST team or identify who your local rural safer neighbourhood officers are, call the non-emergency number 101.

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