Press release from Peak District National Park Authority (2nd March 2022)
National Park Authority and Derbyshire Constabulary in new agreement to tackle rural issues in the Peak District
The two organisations will work together to ‘support a safe home and welcoming place for people and wildlife in the Peak District National Park.
A new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Peak District National Park Authority and Derbyshire Constabulary will see both organisations come together to work on co-ordinated efforts to tackle rural and wildlife crime and other issues in the UK’s original national park.
Also working with Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) and Police & Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire Angelique Foster, the new agreement recognises the distinct roles and responsibilities of the two bodies, but also how collaborative working can benefit both local communities and visitors to the area.
The National Park Authority holds regular ‘summit’ meetings with Derbyshire Constabulary and other forces represented across the Peak District, however the MoU is the first formal agreement of its kind with any of the regional forces working within the Peak District.
The Peak District has a range of complex policing challenges ranging from wildlife crime affecting some of the area’s rare species, through to addressing the balance of managing millions of annual visitors to often hugely popular locations along with over 38,000 residents and hundreds of local businesses.
The new agreement, along with the continuation of regular summits will identify activities where coordinated efforts can bring the most impact; such as engagement with campaigns like #PeakDistrictProud encouraging positive visiting across issues like litter, parking and wild fires. It will help address wildlife crimes such as bird of prey persecution, theft of birds eggs and young, hare coursing, badger persecution and poaching.
Joint communications to the public, incident reporting procedures and ongoing liaison with other police forces also underpin the memorandum. Operational and tactical crime matters will remain with Derbyshire Constabulary as the lead body, with the National Park Authority providing support where beneficial.
Sarah Fowler, chief executive of Peak District National Park Authority said: “I’m delighted that after already working closely with Derbyshire police for a number of years on local campaigns and operations on the ground that we now have a formal agreement that sets out a clear aspiration and benchmark for collaborative working that will benefit all those who live within and visit the Peak District.
“This agreement has only been possible thanks to a clear vision shared by both the National Park Authority, Derbyshire police officers and Police & Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster’s office to deliver on the issues that matter in local communities and to our millions of visitors.
“Whether through protection of our much-loved natural and cultural heritage or ensuring that everyone always feel safe and welcome in the UK’s first national park, partnership working should be a cornerstone to how we take care of our protected landscapes.
“We look forward to developing similar partnerships with our other constituent police forces across Staffordshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire and I’m delighted that many of these discussions are already underway.”
Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster said: “Across Derbyshire, residents have told me that rural and wildlife crime is a concern to them. That is why I have prioritised tackling rural crime in my Police and Crime Plan.
“My plan also emphasises the importance of effective partnership working, drawing on the strengths of key organisations to provide a better service to local residents.
“The agreement we have signed today highlights how the different agencies with responsibility for tackling criminality, keeping people safe and, amongst others, those protecting our heritage and wildlife will work together to make the Peak District safer.
“I welcome the move and will continue to drive the Constabulary to provide a consistently strong local policing presence in all areas, however remote.”
Chief Superintendent Hayley Barnett, who is the Divisional Commander for the North that covers the Peak District, said: “Partnership working is key to providing a quality service to the communities of Derbyshire.
“By signing this agreement along with the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner, it highlights our commitment to policing the Peak District and the issues that arise in the rural parts of the county.
“Both our Rural Crime Team and local Safer Neighbourhood Teams work closely with rangers and staff within the National Park Authority to ensure that joined up working is taking place and the Peak District remains a popular and safe place to live and visit.”
I’m not sure that this ‘new agreement’ amounts to anything more than lip service when it comes to tackling raptor persecution inside the Peak District National Park.
History has shown us that the Park Authority doesn’t actually have any authority on this issue, or if it does it’s reluctant to impose it (e.g. see here).
Derbyshire Constabulary has a reputation for looking the other way when it suits them, usually when crime scenes are located on land used for gamebird shooting (e.g. see here and here) although when suspected incidents are not connected to gamebird shooting they can be impressively proactive (e.g. see here and here).
Still, I suppose the ‘new agreement’ can be used to apply pressure to the two organisations, and on the Derbyshire Police & Crime Commissioner, when the inevitable news of more raptor persecution crimes emerge and nobody is held to account.