Step up fight against ru­ral crime, says NFU

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - Uk And World News - BY ATHWENNA IRONS

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

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