DOZENS of officers and PCSOs carried out widespread patrols in Craven and other parts of North Yorkshire on Wednesday night, as part of Operation Checkpoint – a major clampdown on rural crime.

The operation was carried out to keep the pressure up on suspected poachers, with several being stopped, checked, and warned about their behaviour.

North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce and Operational Support Unit worked alongside Neighbourhood Policing Teams, and were joined by 27 Rural Watch volunteers – who gave up their own time to keep their communities safe.

Between them, they provided a high-visibility presence along the A1 corridor through Hambleton and Richmondshire; throughout the Craven district; in and around Stokesley, Northallerton, Bedale and Easingwold; and across the North York Moors.

During Checkpoint deployments – the latest of which ran from Wednesday evening into the early hours of yesterday – police focus on vehicles seen in suspicious circumstances in rural areas, or suspected of being connected to crime. The high-visibility patrols deter would-be thieves from targeting high-value Land Rovers, quad bikes and other farm vehicles.

As a result, 20 vehicles were stopped and checked out, three breath tests were administered and a motorist was reported for summons for speeding. Poaching suspects were also targeted, and while no offences were identified on the night, several will be sent written Community Protection Notices warning them about their future activities.

Sergeant Stuart Grainger, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “We covered a lot of ground – once again the 'watch' groups gave us invaluable support, and I’d like to thank them for the unsung work that they do.”

Mobile Rural Watches operate across the North Yorkshire countryside, supporting the force’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Rural Taskforce.

Volunteers use their own vehicles, and are equipped with police radios so they can communicate with officers. By drawing on the expert local knowledge of the volunteers, any suspicious activity or vehicles can be checked out in real time.

To find out more about Rural Watch schemes elsewhere in North Yorkshire, contact your local Neighbourhood Policing Team, or Rural Taskforce officer, by dialling 101.