Step up fight against rural crime, says NFU
Farming leaders have urged Police and Crime Commissioners to make tackling rural crime a strategic objective all year round, as criminals continue to target the countryside.
The call from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) follows a national day of police focus on combating crime in the countryside.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council came together on November 8 for a day of collaborative action on the issue, encouraging all police forces to carry out activity to combat rural crime, including issuing warrants and making arrests.
Guy Smith, deputy NFU president, said that while this focus is welcome news, tackling rural crime needs to be a strategic focus of police all year round.
“The issue of rural crime is something brought up at almost every meeting I attend,” he said. “Crime in the countryside is increasing and it is leaving farmers, growers and rural communities increasingly fearful.
“Not only do businesses see machinery stolen or largescale waste dumped on their land but they are frequently intimidated and threatened by the perpetrators. All of this can amount to serious disruption in the farm business but it also takes its toll on the farmer and their family.”
NFU Mutual’s 2018 Rural Crime Report says rural crime in the UK cost an estimated £44.5 million in 2017. Up 13.4% on 2016, it is rising at its fastest rate since 2010.
Rural crime cost the South West £5.9 million in 2017, a rise of 5.3% from 2016. Somerset was found to be one of the ten worst-affected counties by cost at £1.3 million in 2017.
Rural crime cost Dorset £881,541 in 2017, a higher than average rise of 45.9%, while Devon also experienced an increase on the previous year – costing the county £532,585 in 2017. This was again a higher than average rise of 46.8%.
The items most commonly stolen across the four South West counties over the last 12 months were quad bikes and ATVs (all-terrain vehicles), tools, garden equipment, livestock, 4x4s and machinery.
Mr Smith csaid: “I commend the National Police Chiefs Council for encouraging all of their forces, rural or urban, to focus on tackling crime in the countryside and I am confident they will have made this day a great success.
“However, there needs to be this type of focus all year round and that starts at the top with Police and Crime Commissioners. The NFU will continue to be the leading farming organisation taking this to the heart of government, police and civil service.”
The NFU’s Rural Crime Reporting Line, in partnership with Crimestoppers, is on 0800 783 0137 – or visit www.ruralcrimereportingline.uk.
Farming and rural affairs reporter @AthwennaWMN ‘All this takes its toll on the farmer and their family’
Guy Smith, deputy NFU president