Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Human cost of rural crime laid bare in NFU report

July 31, 2017 by  
Filed under News & Business

NFURuralCrime2017

Criminals in the countryside are costing farmers as much as £42.5m a year, says an NFU report which the union says bare the true human cost of rural crime.

Farmers have been victims of arson, vandalism and burglary, says the report, launched at Westminster on 17 July. Many have experienced fear, intimidation and threats of violence. Vehicle theft, hare coursing and fly-tipping are contributing to anger, frustration and worry.

The result is an increasing fear of crime in rural areas and significantly lower satisfaction levels in the police than the national average, says NFU deputy president Minette Batters, who is calling for a coordinated approach that sees police forces share best practice.

Postcode lottery

“With significant and varied differences across police forces, safety in rural areas has become a postcode lottery. Farmers are reporting dramatic increases in incidents and are feeling more vulnerable as these actions continue.

“Violent crime along with fly-tipping, hare coursing and theft are just a few examples of the crimes farm businesses are being subject to. On my farm, we have suffered with constant hare coursing problems, resulting in gates being left open and stock being continually put at risk.”

The NFU has found there is no standard protocol across police forces for combatting rural crime, with some forces not even treating rural crime as serious crime. This is leading to ‘criminal tourism’ with perpetrators often travelling long distances to target farm businesses.

Fairer funding

The NFU is asking government and the Home Office to ensure increased and fairer funding for rural policing. More than 1,000 rural police stations closed between 2000 and 2012, directly impacting the level of police surveillance, it says.

Mrs Batters said: “There are many very good examples of police forces taking action and implementing good practice to deal with rural crime, with great success. “But we believe more joined-up thinking is needed.”

She added: “The NFU would like Government to take the lead to ensure all constabularies adopt strategies of accurate recording and target setting and are willing to work together to find positive solutions to these challenges.”

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