A dedicated rural crime team has been officially launched by Cumbria Police to better protect the county's farming communities.

The move was announced to coincide with Rural Crime Action Week which runs from September 18-24 across the country.

The team will be working under Operation Lantern, Cumbria Constabulary’s dedicated operation to target rural crime within Cumbria.

Chief Constable Rob Carden said: “We know from victims about the devastating impact that rural crime can have on communities across the force area.

“As a predominantly rural force, we are determined create a hostile environment for criminals to safeguard local communities."

The creation of the team is set to provide more opportunities for the police to target individuals who see the county as a 'soft target' for rural crime.

The priorities of the newly established division will include burglary of rural businesses and farms, theft of farm machinery, environmental offences such as waste, and livestock offences.

Chief Inspector Lee Skelton rural crime lead added: “We have been able to introduce this enhanced policing service to our rural communities due to increased officer numbers in Cumbria through Operation Uplift and our continued recruitment of officers.

“The Rural Crime Team will support the wider constabulary in targeting this area of crime and provide specialist rural crime advice to officers, create strong links within the community and look at the issues they are facing and how we can deter criminals."

CI Skelton went on to mention that they will still need the support of people they are trying to help, encouraging locals to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity.

Cumbria’s Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Mike Johnson, welcomed the move and pointed out that it was made a reality through the requests from communities asking for more help.

"There is further dedicated training taking place across the Constabulary to ensure that when you make initial contact to report a crime that you receive the appropriate response."

A dedicated Facebook page has been set up for updates from the team, which can be found here.