School is out and so are officers from the St Albans and Harpenden Safer Neighbourhood police teams.
Joining forces with colleagues in North Herts, officers and PCSOs have launched Operation Astare – a rural Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) based operation targeting rural crime during the summer.
The teams will be tackling hare coursing, criminal damage to fields and crops and fly tipping, as well as theft and burglary in rural locations.
Neighbourhood sergeant Paul Caro explained: “We know that many criminals travel into our rural areas from outside of the county and then use key routes and some of the back roads that lead off them, to make quick escapes. During this operation, we will be actively disrupting criminals coming into Harpenden and St Albans from other areas to commit rural crime.”
With the harvest season nearly upon us, the number of reported hare coursing incidents tends to increase as the fields start to be cut.
In St Albans last week, officers used a mobile ANPR kit to monitor the A1081 Luton Road and had a stopping point at the junction with The Common, Kinsbourne Green.
In North Herts, ANPR was used on the A505 into Hitchin, with a vehicle based on the outskirts of Hitchin and another patrolling the tracks along Lilley Bottom Road which are often used by criminals to avoid major routes. Another vehicle was based in Kimpton to provide support for the Harpenden officers with their mobile ANPR camera on the Lower Luton Road, in case anything was displaced.
Sergeant Caro added: “We hope this offers some reassurance to our rural communities. Remember, if you see a crime in progress, including fly-tipping, call 999. If you are reporting a crime retrospectively, please call 101.”