TWO of the region's police and crime commissioners (PCCs) have signed up to an initiative to tackle crime in the countryside.

Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire PCC, and Ron Hogg, her counterpart in Durham, have agreed to join the National Rural Crime Network.

The scheme, which has so far been endorsed by 18 of the UK’s PCCs, was set-up to help tackle rural crime more effectively in England and Wales.

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Mrs Mulligan said: “As the commissioner for the largest rural police force in England, I am particularly keen to support this initiative.

"Clearly, crime in rural areas accounts for a large proportion of North Yorkshire Police's demand.

“There are significant pressures on rural police forces and by coming together, we will be able to speak in a strong and united voice.”

Mr Hogg added: “Tackling rural crime is important locally, as the majority of County Durham and Darlington is predominantly rural.

“I am confident that an effective participation with others, learning about what works well and the best ways of assisting our rural communities in this regard, can only be of positive benefit in successfully challenging rural crime across the Durham Constabulary area.”

The idea originated with the Rural Services Network, a not for profit organisation which represents a range of rural service providers in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Organisations including Farmers Weekly magazine, National Community Safety Network, the online crime reporting system Facewatch, the Country Land and Business Association were involved in the network's launch.

The scheme will provide an online resource for police, community safety officials and others to share information and work together.