KENT police have formed a new team of officers to focus specifically on policing rural areas.
The rural policing team comprises nine special constables responsible for building on existing relationships with farmers and rural businesses in the west of the county.
Officers will also provide crime prevention advice, a more visible policing presence, and support proactive operations to target criminals operating within rural communities.
Similar teams already operate in rural areas of the north and east of the county.
Special constables have full police powers, full uniform and equipment, and work alongside regular police officers in a voluntary capacity.
Kent chief constable Ian Learmonth said: 'We have got so many different skills sets within the special constabulary, many of whom have particular expertise in rural issues, so it makes perfect sense to utilise them in this way to the benefit of both the force and the community."
The new team of specials will work alongside Kent's rural partnership team of regular police officers, contributing their own knowledge and skills to help further improve this team.
Mr Learmonth said: I'm really excited to see how the team develops, and the feedback from the rural community so far has been really positive.'
Special constables are required to volunteer a minimum of 16 hours per month to performing operational duties, as well as attend training sessions.
Candidates must be 18 years of age or above, and meet the required fitness and medical standard.
The rural team is not the first specialist team of volunteer officers to be formed at Kent Police.
The force has a Specials Roads Policing Unit, which provides support to regular traffic officers in policing the county's road networks in both marked and unmarked cars.
There is also a marine team in place to assist with policing the county's coastline.
Inspector Maxine Martin said the impact of the rural specials had been praised by local residents who now felt safer and that local community issues had been resolved.
"Officers have also noted how many people approach them in the street to thank them for their presence and to pass on information," she said.
"Their presence has been a resounding success, and I'm really looking forward to embedding officers into other rural areas."
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