The head of a national police crime network has accused forces of being too responsive to rural crime, as she urged the public to help demonstrate the need for more proactive policing in the countryside.
North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan, who chairs the National Rural Crime Network to inform better policing of crime in rural England and Wales, said she worries that countryside areas are being “short changed” but that the true scale of the problem has to be quantified if that is to change.
Ms Mulligan spoke to The Yorkshire Post ahead of the launch today of the Network’s second National Rural Crime Survey. The exercise to gather a clearer picture of crime affecting rural communities was carried out for the first time three years ago and the police commissioner is keen for its latest edition to generate a big response.
Some 13,000 people answered the 2015 survey and this led to findings that the true cost of rural crime exceeds £800m, dwarfing earlier estimates.
The Network’s subsequent recommendations included fairer funding for rural areas, more joined up working with partners and communities, building on rural resilience, embedding best practice, developing new policies and ways of working, and ensuring a more targeted approach to policing in rural communities.
At the moment forces are largely responsive to rural crime and there needs to be far more proactive intelligence led policing.Julia Mulligan, chairwoman of the National Rural Crime Network.
Asked what progress had been made since, Ms Mulligan said: “A lot of forces have taken some really positive steps. In North Yorkshire for example we now have one of the largest dedicated rural crime task forces in the country, but rural crime is still a major problem in our area.
“At the moment forces are largely responsive to rural crime and there needs to be far more proactive intelligence led policing into this. I know in North Yorkshire that the Deputy Constable who is the lead on rural crime is looking at this to see how the force can better understand it.”
She said she understands that more urban-centred forces had different challenges than those in more rural settings, but that rural communities have to speak up and make it known the extent to which they are suffering.
“Police forces have to look at the priorities in their different areas and allocate resources accordingly but I do have a worry that rural areas are being short changed,” Ms Mulligan said.
“I do think it’s challenging for police with large rural populations to get their voice heard when there are very serious issues going on. The current concerns around the murder rate in London for example, makes it difficult to make yourself heard.
“But we need to understand the true scale of rural crime, it’s impact and we need to be able to demonstrate the demand in rural areas requires a response. At the moment that picture is different because of the scale of under reporting. It’s really important rural people in rural communities report what’s going on.”
To respond to the National Rural Crime Survey, visit www.nationalruralcrimenetwork.net
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