Rural crime special report: 'Disengagement' between police and countryside community

A DISCONNECT between a Yorkshire police force and the communities it serves has been felt most keenly in rural areas, its police commissioner has said.

Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner Keith Hunter

Keith Hunter, Labour police and crime commissioner for Humberside, said: “The force has really been struggling, over a period of time, and part of that is a disengagement of policing from communities – not just rural communities, but all communities. I have been pushing for more engagement.”

Mr Hunter said this disengagement was felt more keenly in rural communities “because they see even less of the police than urban communities, what with being more isolated”.

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Humberside Police is also now looking to increase the number of specialist rural crime officers from one to two, he said.

The number of police officers dedicated to tackling rural crime varies by police force.

Three years ago, the National Rural Crime Network set out seven recommendations for improving the policing of rural crime, but stopped short of recommending that each force sets up a taskforce to tackle the issue.

However, North Yorkshire Police set up a dedicated team shortly after the report was published. It has 17 officers.

South Yorkshire Police is training 24 officers to have a rural focus, although they will also have other duties.

In West Yorkshire, while its force has wildlife crime officers, the responsibility for policing rural areas largely falls to neighbourhood teams. Police commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said they knew their patches best.