Rural crime and emerging trends in organised crime topped the agenda when two farming and rural organisations met with Kent Police.
Representatives of the NFU and the CLA met with the force’s Chief Constable Alan Pughsley at its headquarters in Northfleet for their annual liaison meeting.
Discussions on legislative changes to combat dog attacks on livestock and tackle the scourge of hare coursing were upbeat. But the two organisations raised serious concerns about organised crime, notably the theft of high tech, high value GPS kits that are shipped abroad by criminal networks and sold in Europe.
The persistent problem of fly-tipping was also raised. According to the latest statistics released by Defra in December 2021, the number of incidents reported on public land alone rose by 23% in 2020/21, to more than 31,000 cases. Every single borough and district in the Garden of England suffered an increase year-on-year, including Tonbridge and Malling up 75%, Dover 61% and Tunbridge Wells 41%.
Attendees at the meeting included Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Brookes; Tim Bamford, CLA Regional Director; Charles Tassell, Kent CLA Chairman; William White, NFU South East Regional Director; William Alexander, NFU Kent County Chairman; and Amanda Corp, NFU Kent County Adviser.
Mr Bamford said: “It was a positive meeting which highlighted the very real impact crime has on rural businesses and communities across Kent.
“It was useful to hear Kent Police continues to support rural, and we would urge the force to resource its dedicated taskforce as strongly as possible.
“The CLA is committed to working with our partners to help tackle rural crime, and we encourage farmers, businesses and the wider public to report all incidents so that police can build up a more complete picture and then allocate appropriate resources.”
Mr Alexander, who farms near Sevenoaks, said: “Farmers, landowners and police all expressed relief that concerted lobbying by the NFU and the CLA will result in tougher legislation and penalties to tackle hare coursing, a major problem for us here in Kent.
“We came away from the meeting with some positive news that the future of Kent Police’s rural taskforce is assured and we will continue to work closely with police to tackle the scourge of rural crime in the county.”
The meeting included a discussion on the performance of the rural policing team and successful prosecutions over the past year.