If you ask anyone about the kind of society they want, I’m sure a lack of crime would be pretty high up the agenda.
Sadly though, however, much we might aspire to this, it’s a big ask. Much of the focus is inevitably on combatting urban crime, but our rural communities also need to feel safe.
The question is how can we achieve this and that was what I was asked to explore by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) which is working with the police to help develop a robust strategy to combat rural crime.
The impact that crime can have on the farming and wider rural community has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. And with police resources more stretched than ever before, it is clear that the rural community needs to develop strong relationships with the police, with clear channels of communication.
As is so often the case this is easier said than done so it was encouraging to see the Home Office pledging almost £40,000 recently to help establish a national rural crime network led by North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan.
Despite this, and recent figures indicating that in 2013 rural crime cost the nation an estimated £44.5 million, I have been told several times while carrying out my research that ‘rural crime is not an issue’. We beg to differ and with that in mind the NFU is now asking farmers and rural residents to support a new drive to report rural crime every time and ‘Report it Right’.
The basis of this new campaign is that decisions on the deployment of police resources are made in response to crime statistics. If rural crime goes unreported, the problem is likely to be overlooked.
But from talking to the police, it is clear that simply reporting crime is not enough, it needs to be reported in the right way. For rural crime to be correctly logged, victims need to think about the specifics of the crime and the terminology that will resonate with the police. Using the right words and phrases can make a significant difference in how crime is logged and how the police will respond.
We also want people to put a value on the crime as agricultural machinery, crops or animals can be every bit as valuable as a top end car, for example – it’s just that this is perhaps not common knowledge.
Finally we want people to make sure they get a crime or log number. That way they can be sure the report is being officially recognised.
Rural crime cost the region £3.6m in 2013, a six per cent rise from the previous year, according to a recent survey by insurer NFU Mutual based on its annual claims data.
Rural crime is clearly an issue and we need to make sure that is recognised. So a team effort is needed across rural Yorkshire to make sure all crime is reported as well as ‘intelligence’ such as the presence of suspicious vehicles.
This campaign has the support of the police, who want to work in partnership with the local community. More information on the ‘landscape’ of rural crime is vital if they are to use their finite resources to the best possible effect. So please support this campaign and be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the countryside.
Julia Mulligan is attending Nidderdale Show on Monday and we would encourage our members to share any concerns with her at Stand 56 between 9am and 11am.
Bethan Williams is a graduate working for the NFU in the North East.