Farmers bear brunt of criminal acts
10% say it costs their business £10K
Police ‘need more rural resources’
The devastating impact of rural crime on farmers has prompted renewed urgent calls for more resources to tackle the issue.
The most common crimes include hare coursing, fly tipping, burglary and theft, according to an NFU survey. Of the 252 respondents from East Anglia who were victims of crime in 2020, some 10% said it had cost their business £10,000 or more.
The average financial loss per farm was £5,100. One farmer who asked not to be named, said: “Rural crime is like an additional tax on the business, as we are constantly spending money upgrading security.”
The survey was conducted ahead of this month’s Police and Crime Commissioner elections on 6 May. The NFU is asking all candidates to recognise the severity of the issue and commit to prioritising a reduction in rural crime as a strategic objective.
NFU eastern region director Gary Ford said: “Rural crime remains a blight on the countryside. We are concerned, but sadly not surprised, that so many of our members have been affected.”
The survey shows that farmers and the wider rural community are fighting back – introducing additional security measures to farms and working more closely with the police.
Mr Ford said: “Many members appreciate the response they receive from the police on rural crime but feel that rural teams are under-funded and under-resourced.”
Farmers are making use of new technology, such as WhatsApp, to share information with local police officers. One farmer told the NFU: “It is now impossible to grow food without people driving on crops and damaging them.”
Crimes like hare coursing, fly-tipping, dog attacks on livestock and theft of large and small machinery are all leaving rural residents feeling vulnerable and under siege.
Mr Ford said: “They have knock-on effects on farm businesses. Despite this, rural areas continue to receive lower levels of police funding, per head of population, than urban areas.
“We will be using the survey findings in our discussions with police and crime commissioner candidates to help ensure rural policing receives the resources it needs – and rural communities deserve.”