NFU president Minette Batters urges police chiefs to act on rural crime

Minette Batters, the president of the National Farmers' Union, will today urge chief constables to ensure farms and rural communities do not become a 'soft target' for criminals.

Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers' Union, will speak to all the chief constables in the country about rural crime at a meeting in York today. Picture by Tim Scrivener.

In an address to the National Police Chiefs Council at a meeting in York, the union leader will say that a consistent and coordinated approach to rural crime is needed to tackle the issue.

Speaking to all the chief constables in the country at the summit, Mrs Batters will impress upon them the NFU’s desire to see dedicated rural police teams - like the one that operates in North Yorkshire - established by every police force.

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The National Rural Crime Network launches its National Rural Crime Survey today, the results of which will help inform the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Rural Affairs National Strategy for 2018-2021 which is due to be launched later this year.

Since the previous survey in 2015, some 13 forces in England and Wales have gone on to set up dedicated rural crime teams.

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Mrs Batters said: “All manner of rural crimes, whether it is hare-coursing, fly-tipping or theft, severely impact farm businesses and rural communities. Not only does it have economic consequences but these criminals also bring threats, violence and intimidation to the countryside.

“It is crucial that there is a joined-up approach to tackle this issue and that is why the NFU is the leading farming organisation representing its members in the fight against rural crime.

“Engaging with police chiefs, in particular the National Wildlife Crime Unit, is a prime example of this work and making those at the front line aware of the real cost of crime to farm businesses is essential.”

Mrs Batters added: “It has been almost a year since the NFU released its Combatting Rural Crime report and laid out its asks of government, and we have yet to see any concrete action being taken. It is absolutely vital that this changes to protect our countryside from being a soft target for criminals.

“A cross-departmental task force would be a step in the right direction to show that all aspects of government are taking this issue extremely seriously.”

The NFU called for a national task force to co-ordinate a consistent approach to rural crime in a report last year, but the Home Office said that police and crime commissioners had the power at a local level to deploy resources in response to rural crime.