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"Crime a significant problem" in rural Wales

The overwhelming majority of rural communities in Wales see crime as a significant problem in their area and half believe police are not taking crime seriously, the latest Countryside Alliance Rural Crime survey reveals.

According to the annual survey, some 92% of those surveyed from across Wales, said that rural crime was a "significant" issue in their community.

The survey which was responded to by residents living in Wales found that 56% did not think the police take rural crime seriously, and 89% had not seen any police officers in their area in the last week.

Asked if they felt police could be relied on "to be there when you need them", only 14% of those surveyed said they agreed, while more than half of those who had reported crimes to police said they were dissatisfied with the response from officers.

54% of those who did not report the crime they experienced to the police said they didn't do so because it "was a waste of time".

The most common crimes experienced by those polled were trespass, theft from outbuildings and criminal damage – arson/vandalism with other frequent offences including agricultural machinery theft and fly-tipping.

Many respondents also claimed they had been forced to install crime prevention measures such as security lights, CCTV, and extra security on vehicles, while others have opted for buying guard dogs due to an "increased fear" of crime.

Just 28 per cent rated the police in their area as "good" or "excellent" in 2022.

Sarah Lee, Director of Policy at the Countryside Alliance said: "The results from this survey suggest that both faith and trust in the police to tackle rural crime has dropped in the last year. Rural communities have for a long time been resigned to the fact they will receive a poorer level of response from the police when they have a crime committed against them and this is just unacceptable. However, it comes against a backdrop of increasing and competing pressures on rural police forces who face funding challenges.

"As the review of the police funding formula gets underway this year, we urgently call upon the Government to level up rural policing, by increasing funding and resources to rural policing teams".

A Home Office spokesperson said the government was "committed to driving down rural crime".

"Whether someone lives in the countryside or a town or city, they should have the same peace of mind when going about their daily lives, and they should get the same high-quality service from the police if they fall victim to a crime.

They added that the rural and wildlife crime strategy published by the National Police Chiefs' Council "ensures policing and its partners can work together to tackle the most prevalent threats which predominantly affect rural communities."

However, when speaking to the I newspaper about the findings from the survey, opposition parties responded by arguing it shows rural communities are "at the end of the queue" when it came to policing, and that trust in the police had "totally collapsed".

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael, said "rural areas are always at the end of the queue when it comes to crime".

"The very least people should expect is for the police to attend and investigate a crime but even that is not guaranteed".

Mr Carmichael added that rural communities needed a "real plan" to tackle crime rather than just "empty promises".

"These figures show just how concerned people are about crime, including in rural communities across the country," said Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper for Labour.

"Labour is the party of law and order. The next Labour government will deliver a Neighbourhood Policing Guarantee, with 13,000 extra neighbourhood police and PCSOs and proper action to tackle antisocial behaviour."

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