Addressing rural crime

The latest column from CLA East Director Cath Crowther
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Rural crime continues to blight many farmers and landowners in our region. It was, therefore, encouraging to have the Norfolk Constabulary Chief Constable and the Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner join a panel discussion in the CLA marquee recently at the Royal Norfolk Show. It was an opportunity for them to provide an update on how they are working to tackle some the pressing rural crime issues facing those who live and work in the countryside.

We have had similar conversations recently with police representatives at the Suffolk Show and we work hard to ensure we have good lines of communication with all police forces across our region. In Lincolnshire, we had constructive conversations with officers at the Lincolnshire Show.

GPS thefts continue to be one area of constant concern with police urging farmers and landowners to remain vigilant across East Anglia. They advise that when possible to do so, remove GPS systems from your machinery and store them inside at night. They appreciate this is not ideal, but you’re much less likely to become a victim of this crime by doing so.

If removal is not possible, they recommend having your GPS tracker and system forensically marked, installing CCTV, and locking away tractors at night. Sergeant Brian Calver from Suffolk Police has told us these are determined offenders, who are clearly making a lot of money at the expense of innocent farmers and he very much doubts they plan to stop.

He’d also advise installing systems such as remote cameras or sensors that will alert you to the presence of intruders, thus providing the opportunity for a 999 call whilst offenders are on site. Equipment such as the uWatch cube is probably worthy of consideration too.

This is very much about preventative measures though and the CLA has highlighted the need for police to commit sufficient resource on bringing those who are responsible for this criminality to justice.

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The CLA police panel discussion at the Royal Norfolk Show

Other topics that have been raised with police forces in recent weeks include fly-tipping, hare coursing and other agricultural, heritage and wildlife crimes. As we enter the summer season the increased risk of wildfires caused by either the extreme heat or arson attacks will be constant. The need for the police and fire and rescue services to work closely and respond quickly will be essential in ensuring there is not a risk to life or widespread damage to crops and buildings.

With the schools breaking up soon there is also the need for everyone to understand and adhere to the Countryside Code. The CLA’s education packs on the code, available on the CLA website, are aimed at helping young people gain a better understanding of the dos and don’ts when you’re out and about, but there is a responsibility for all of us to act responsibly in the countryside.

One of the key messages I have heard from police recently is the need for all rural crime to be reported to them. It may only be something small, but by reporting everything, the police can build up a bank of intelligence which helps them to understand where their resources should be best deployed.

The CLA prides itself on supporting farmers, landowners and rural businesses and providing them a voice of a range of important matters. Our regular communication with police forces in our region ensures their concerns on crime continue to be heard. If you have had experiences with your local constabulary. either positive or negative, then please get in touch. We can then provide this feedback in our regular meetings.