POLICE chiefs have unveiled their first strategies for tackling rural and wildlife crime at a summit in Harrogate.
It comes in the wake of a major policing study published earlier this week, which found that substandard countryside policing is deterring more and more rural businesses from reporting crime despite its growing financial impact and the enormous emotional strain it causes.
The twin three-year strategies drawn up by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) will see forces across the country sharing best practice and co-ordinating cross-border responses to crime in the countryside.
The rural affairs strategy will focus on six issues: the theft of machinery and vehicles, livestock offences, fuel theft, equine crime, fly-tipping and poaching.
The wildlife crime strategy will also look at poaching, as well as the illegal trade in endangered species and crimes against badgers, bats, birds of prey and freshwater mussels.
Representatives of 41 forces, as well as business and rural affairs groups, attended the summit in Harrogate.
The NPCC lead for rural affairs, Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor, said the National Rural Crime Survey had shown how vulnerable countryside communities felt.
He said: “What we are struggling with, what came out loud and clear, is that rural communities are feeling less safe.”
He said the rural affairs strategy would have proved a success if they had started to make people feel safer again.
North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan, who leads the National Rural Crime Network, welcomed the strategies.
She said: “I’m really pleased to see fly-tipping in the rural affairs strategy, because in the first instance they didn’t want to include it because they felt it wasn’t a policing matter but I feel it is really evident that the public feel the police need to respond.”