Officers and volunteers will be out and about across the force area today as part of a day of action tackling rural crime.They will be visiting farms, events, markets and rural businesses across Avon and Somerset to give crime prevention advice, help with property marking, promote membership of the Farm, Rural and Horse Watch Schemes and hand out property marking kits .Today will also see the launch of our new Rural Crime Team. The team, led by Sgt Stuart Williams, will be helping protect and support the farming and rural communities of Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Somerset.The team will be working with external organisations and local communities to identify key issues, help reduce crime, facilitate collaboration with other forces and organisations such as the National Farmers Union, and share information and best practice. The team will also act in an advisory capacity for local policing teams and provide training to staff and other officers to help give them a better understanding of rural issues and ultimately provide a better service to rural communities . Superintendent Ian Wylie, who is the force lead on rural crime, said: “Farmers need to know that we understand the long-term effect that crime can have on their business and day-to-day working environment. That is one of the key areas that the new Rural Crime Team will be looking at to help support local policing teams.“We are already working closely with farmers and rural communities. Events such as our Rural Crime Forum in October last year, enabled us to speak directly with farmers, identify key issues and areas where we could improve our service and work together to reduce these crimes further.”Superintendent Wylie added: “Figures released by NFU Mutual last summer showed that agricultural crime had fallen both nationally and across the South West by nearly a fifth over the previous year.“We are obviously very pleased to see a reduction in rural crime; this is extremely encouraging. However, we aren’t complacent and whilst this reduction does mean fewer victims, one victim of crime is one too many.“We are primarily a rural police force and we need to do whatever we can to cut crime in the countryside. We understand it has a huge impact on both individuals and the local economy.””Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “The Rural Crime Team will strengthen the Constabulary’s focus on the issues affecting farmers, smallholders and rural businesses.“It was a real desire of mine to have something like this in place following many discussions and forums with rural communities. Farmers, residents and businesses tell me that they want to engage with the police and to work together to help prevent and reduce rural crime from happening in the first place.“This new team and focused days of action will embed rural crime as a priority for the police in Avon and Somerset and offer dedicated officers and staff with real expertise on rural issues.”PCC Mountstevens recently became the 20th Commissioner to endorse the Rural Crime Network, which aims to help tackle rural crime more effectively in England and Wales. The Rural Services Network is a ‘not for profit’ organisation, which represents a diverse range of rural services. Once established the Network will provide an online resource for police, community safety practitioners and others to share information, training development, access to case studies and links for reporting crime and/or suspicious behaviour.