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Tim Bonner: Tackling the rise in rural crime

Crime is a blight on too many rural communities and is consistently a top priority when we talk to our members and supporters. Machinery theft, fly tipping, livestock rustling and hare poaching are far too common in many parts of the countryside to the point that many instances are not even properly reported. The Countryside Alliance's annual Rural Crime Survey has shown us that those living and working in rural communities often feel that the police do not have a proper focus on rural crime despite it being at the top of the agenda for rural people.

Last year 46% of people who responded to our Rural Crime Survey told us they do not think the police take rural crime seriously and worryingly one in four did not even bother reporting crime to the police. Last year's results also showed that nine in 10 people had not seen a police officer in the last week, whilst seven in 10 people reported an increase in crime over the past 12 months.

It is clear, therefore, that there is a lot to do in tackling rural crime and that it is a priority for rural communities. As a voice for rural Britain, the Alliance will continue to put pressure on governments, Police and Crime Commissioners, and police forces on their approach to tackling rural crime and the causes of rural crime. We need your help to update our evidence and track trends in rural crime by taking part in our annual Rural Crime Survey 2022 which will help us direct our campaigns and provide the evidence that will ensure that your voice is heard in the corridors of power.

Unfortunately, tackling rural crime is only likely to become a more pressing concern in the coming years. Crime levels have always been inextricably linked to the prevailing economic situation and as the cost-of-living crisis bites and the country moves into recession it is inevitable that more people will be tempted to resort to theft and other acquisitive crimes. It is therefore more important now than ever that police forces across the country have a proper focus on tackling rural crime and protecting rural communities.

With the threat of rising crime, those living in the countryside deserve to have their voice and policing concerns listened to more than ever. Police resources must be distributed fairly and officers need to be sufficiently trained and equipped to deal with the type of crimes being carried out in the countryside, in all weathers and all terrains.

Criminals need to know they cannot and will not get away with targeting rural people and the perception among many in the countryside that rural crime is not taken seriously enough needs to be tackled by ensuring police officers are seen to be out and about on patrol. Rural communities deserve to feel safe and protected as much as any other community and the Alliance's proposals will deliver real improvements in rural policing. Please help us by taking part in this year's survey.

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