Rural crime summit amid new rise in countryside theft

Tim Price, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual.
Tim Price, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual.
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Rural theft has started to rise again, a year after millions of pounds were cut from the total cost of countryside crime, insurer NFU Mutual has warned.

A spokesman for the rural-focussed insurance firm said crime-fighting efforts had paid off in recent years, but the early indications are that insurance claims in 2015 add up to a fresh rise in the cost of criminals targeting rural communities.

According to NFU Mutual’s most recent Rural Crime Survey, rural theft cost the UK economy £37.8m in 2014, a fall of £6.7m on the previous year.

A new report comprising of an analysis of 2015 insurance claims is due to be published by the company at the start of August, and it is expected to show a rise in crime.

Tim Price, a rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “After several years of steep rises in rural theft in the 10 years up to 2013, the efforts of farmers, the police and ourselves as the main insurer of the countryside to improve security, generate increased awareness and the formation of public-private sector partnerships to challenge rural crime has brought down the cost of rural theft.

“However, our claims data shows that rural theft started to rise again in 2015 in many regions as criminals are constantly seeking ways to beat security so there’s no room for complacency.”

Estimates vary on the full cost of rural crime. The National Rural Crime Network estimated that it cost £800m in England and Wales last year.

An annual National Rural Crime Seminar will be held in Kettering, Northamptonshire on May 10 to discuss ways in which rural crime can be tackled effectively.

The event will bring together police officers and rural organisations together from across the UK in a bid to better co-ordinate crime-fighting action. So far delegates from North and South Yorkshire Police are among those who are registered to attend, so too from Humberside Police.

NFU Mutual’s Mr Price said: “The national rural crime seminar is a great opportunity for police officers to get together with rural organisations involved in the fight against rural crime to finds new ways of working together.”

Ahead of the Police and Crime Commissioner elections which take place across England and Wales on May 5, the Country Land and Business Association has urged candidates to treat rural crime as a top priority.