Robin Edwards, CLA South East Regional Director
More than one in four rural crimes goes unreported. This cannot continue. That is why the CLA is calling on those standing in the elections for Police and Crime Commissioner on 5 May to treat rural crime as a high priority.
Reducing crime and the fear of crime is central to improving quality of life for people living in the countryside. It is vital that all incoming Police and Crime Commissioners work with rural communities to combat crime in our countryside and protect rural businesses.
During the last week, we have been contacting all those standing for election to make sure they are fully briefed on the scale and impact of rural crime and highlighting where action is most needed.
Last year, the cost of crime in rural areas across England and Wales was estimated to be £800 million according to a survey by the National Rural Crime Network and in rural areas, 20% more people are very or fairly worried about becoming a victim of crime, compared to the national average.
The CLA is urging candidates for Police and Crime Commissioners to prioritise five decisive factors to fight rural crime effectively:
- Tackle Theft: the theft of metal, fuel, machinery and livestock blights the lives of farmers and rural businesses and the cost to the rural economy is significant.
- Stamp out Wildlife and Heritage crimes: Police and Crime Commissioners need to engage with landowners to prevent wildlife crimes such as poaching and hare coursing, as well as heritage crimes, all of which have a major impact on rural communities, conservation activities and the protection of historic buildings.
- Combat Fly-Tipping: the removal of waste costs farmers and rural businesses up to £150 million a year. It also creates damage to crops and is a danger to livestock.
- Boost Police Presence: engagement with rural communities, a strong police presence to increase confidence and quick response times are vital.
- Endorse Fair Funding for Rural areas: rural communities are by their nature less densely populated which makes it more difficult to ensure a visible police presence and means less money is collected through precepts. As the Government revisits the police funding formula, it is vital the needs of rural areas are adequately met.
Police and Crime Commissioners have the power to make a difference, whether through cracking down on fly tipping, taking ownership of Rural Watch style schemes or encouraging greater engagement with local communities. These elections are an important opportunity to ensure all candidates not only understand the cost and impact of rural crime but are also committed to taking a stand and reducing it in their area.