CLA Regional Surveyor Claire Wright reflects on what police forces are doing to tackle rural crime as a week that aims to raise awareness of the issue continues.
The popular image of rural crime in the minds of the public remains that of low-level thefts and poaching one rabbit for the pot. However the reality, as CLA members who live and work in the countryside well know, is that rural crime is serious, organised and increasingly violent - whether that is hare coursing, the illegal butchery of livestock, theft of plant and machinery or modern slavery.
October 6 -13 marks National Rural Crime Week of Action across the UK. This is an initiative organised by the National Police Chiefs Council and is designed to raise awareness of rural crime issues. Whilst we are aware that rural crime remains a year-round problem for our members this week is a useful exercise in raising public awareness of the reality of rural crime in the 21st century.
The CLA works closely with all police forces across England and Wales. Our regional teams, often accompanied by CLA member representatives, meet regularly with senior officers. It is an opportunity to discuss issues of concern and to hold them to account on promises to tackle rural crime and invest in rural crime teams.
It is heartening therefore to see the progress that several forces have made in recent months in pushing rural crime up the policing agenda. In Essex, the rural engagement team is doubling in size to give it the personnel to really make in-roads into tackling rural crime within the county.
Meanwhile, over the border into Hertfordshire the Police & Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd has made available a significant pot of money to fund clean-up costs for those landowners and rural businesses that have been victims of fly-tipping.
In Lincolnshire, officers have demonstrated what can be achieved when a rural crime team receives investment in the equipment and resources that are needed by officers tasked with the rural beat. They now have access to 4x4 vehicles, quad bikes and drones, which has been a complete game-changer in tackling the scourge of hare coursing and rural crime.
The CLA will continue to work with police forces across the country to ensure rural crime remains a key priority for each force and that officers with a rural beat have the skills, knowledge and equipment they need to keep our rural communities safe.