The cost of rural crime to victims in Yorkshire should not just be measured in financial terms but also its emotional toll.
Fresh calls are being made for improved Government funding for rural policing and there is no more powerful evidence in support of such a move than the shocking account of one Yorkshire farmer who has told this newspaper that he is living “every day in fear” after criminals repeatedly threatened to burn him alive and hit him with a hammer in a series of targeted attacks.
The farmer does not want to be named for fear of reprisals but in the last year alone, his farm has been attacked by arsonists, his lambs have been killed by thugs using them as target practice and he has been threatened by armed criminals on multiple occasions. As he puts it, “There are some people in communities who have no respect for the police or law and it’s just getting worse.”
With a representative of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force admitting that sentencing and conviction rates for such offences are poor and often amount to little more than “a slap on the wrist” on the occasions where an offender does actually end up in court, it is clear that many criminals are operating with near-impunity in many rural areas of the region.
Prior to the General Election, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made great play of his plan to recruit a further 20,000 police officers – a figure that once delivered will still only bring staffing levels back to where they were at the beginning of austerity measures a decade ago.
Extra officers will undoubtedly help and there is, of course, a need to ensure urban areas receive better support to deal with issues like knife crime.
But rural Britain must not go forgotten when resources for fighting crime in a more effective fashion are divided.