Police are flying drones over farmland in a bid to deter rural criminals in Essex.

The initiative is part of Operation Buzzard, launched by Essex Police at Cherry Tree Orchard Farm, Orsett, on Saturday (24 September).

Operation Buzzard aims to reduce rural crime by making best use of the police’s specialist teams and partners across the county.

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Essex rural and heritage crime officer PC Andy Long said new technology and drones could help police tackle rural crime.

“The idea is that criminals in Essex won’t know when we are watching,” he said.

“If you are going about your business committing a crime, you won’t know there is a drone overhead on farmland that we have permission to fly on.”

Farmer help in battle against crime

PC Long said farmers and landowners were also being enlisted in the fight against rural crime.

The drones could be used to track and deter hare coursers, poachers and rural burglars.

The launch event united Thurrock Rural Community Policing Team with their special constable and wildlife officer colleagues.

Essex police said rural crime was a serious issue for both individuals and businesses – and included the theft of livestock, plant machinery and fuel.

Although crime occurred less in rural areas, it still affected large sections of the community.

Police officers and rural special constables were working to combat rural crime by improving police engagement and the provision of information within rural communities.

This included a force wildlife officer specialising in investigating wildlife and environmental crime and working closely with the RSPCA to protect wildlife.