Cost of rural crime more than doubled in space of a year

By Barrie Hudson - 4 August 2020

CommunityCrime

Specialist insurer NFU Mutual says the cost of rural crime for Wiltshire customers more than doubled between 2018 and last year.

  • Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson has promised more help for Wiltshire's rural communities

    Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson has promised more help for Wiltshire's rural communities

According to the organisation's annual rural crime report, the cost to customers in 2018 totalled £527,774.

Last year, that total rose 102 percent to more than £1,066,343.

The announcement drew a promise of more support for rural communities from Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson.

He said: "The figures from today's NFU Mutual Rural Crime Report are concerning and simply cannot be ignored.

“We live in a predominantly rural county so the policing service must be tailored to the needs of our diverse communities. 

"While it is crucial to prevent violent crime in areas across the county, there is a specific need to protect rural communities from the distinct threats they face.

“I discussed rural crime in the county with the Chief Constable and the Assistant Chief Constable, with responsibility for community policing, at a meeting at the end of July.

“With the uplift in policing numbers being achieved by the precept increase and additional central funding, I am pleased that in September the Rural Crime team will gain an additional full-time sergeant and police officer to help combat rural crime in Wiltshire and Swindon. 

“We are a rural county and 35 of our Community Policing Team officers work around the county as Wildlife and Heritage Crime Officers, with an inspector acting as a tactical lead. In addition, members of our Special Constabulary are used on pre-planned rural crime operations.

“As officers leave training over the coming years, I expect the team will be added to further.

“The team all do a fantastic job working closely alongside partner agencies to highlight what they can do to assist us in policing our rural communities. Nevertheless, it is clear to see, as the cost of rural crime increases and offences rise, we must do more to protect our rural communities. 

 “In my Police and Crime Plan, I promised to protect rural communities. The introduction of these additional dedicated officers will allow the team to run extra operations, take geographical responsibility of areas to gain further intelligence, and reassure our communities that we are committed to tackling rural crime.

"We will also continue to engage with our rural communities and our partners with a vested interest in tackling rural crime directly through the Rural Crime Partnership."

Inspector Liz Coles, Rural Crime Lead at Wiltshire Police, said: “The latest figures from the NFU Mutual Rural Crime Report will be worrying for the farmers in our communities who work really hard but unfortunately fall victim to crimes that impact heavily on their livelihoods. 

“We regularly promote the importance of security at rural locations - at both private and public addresses - including CCTV, anti-poaching ditches and the installation of GPS trackers on equipment. We have two bespoke operations in Wiltshire to tackle poaching (Op Artemis) and heritage crime (Op Apollo), and have a 'Police Stop Me' sticker initiative in place to help combat vehicle and machinery theft.

"We have made some significant advances in the way in which we police rural crime in recent years, however, criminals are becoming more organised and determined and are using more sophisticated technology so there is always more that can be done.

“The introduction of the new dedicated rural crime officers will help us immensely in our ability to run projects and focus on prevention alongside our partners. 

"As well as the extra officers, the team will also be provided with extra intelligence support to allow for intelligence-led policing in relation to prevention, detecting criminal activity and proactive operations.

“We will continue to improve and adapt as necessary but I am determined to make Wiltshire a county that criminals fear and think twice about before entering”. 

Wiltshire Police continue to encourage people to report all rural crimes, however small, via 101, or 999 if a crime is in progress.

The full report from NFU Mutual can be found at https://www.nfumutual.co.uk/farming/ruralcrime/

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