POLICE in North Yorkshire have paid tribute to the more than 140 volunteers who help keep rural areas safe.

North Yorkshire Police is taking the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to all its volunteers this National Volunteers Week which ends tomorrow.

Of the force’s 509 volunteers, 142 serve their communities as Rural Watch volunteers.

They assist in the running and administration of Mobile Rural Watch (MRW) groups, supported by hundreds more members of the public.

Groups are made up of farmers, landowners, gamekeepers, rural business and estate owners, as well as anyone who lives or works in a rural area.

They support North Yorkshire Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Rural Taskforce, acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police in the fight against countryside crime.

The groups communicate with each other via phone and WhatsApp, supported by North Yorkshire Police officers and PCSOs.

There are now 25 such groups, representing more than 1,000 members of the public right across the county.

Sergeant Heidi Lewis, of North Yorkshire Police’s Partnership Hub, said: “We are extremely grateful for the invaluable support of our Rural Watch volunteers, and all the members of the public who help us to keep our rural communities safe.”