A new National Rural Crime Network, endorsed by eighteen (18) of the UK’s Police and Crime Commissioners has been set up to help tackle rural crime more effectively in England and Wales.
A further 8 Commissioners are considering joining the group which could bring the total to around two thirds of PCCs across the two countries.
Rural Services Network officer, Nick Payne said “There is a common perception that rural crime is less significant than that occurring in cities and towns. The impact of rural crime is just as serious as it is elsewhere which is becoming an increasing problem as austerity bites and as police resources are stretched thinner. There are also strong links to serious organised gangs in relation to some classifications of rural crime, for example, theft of agricultural plant and machinery as well as the availability of drugs alongside more conventional issues such as wildlife and heritage crime.”
The idea originated with the Rural Services Network, a ‘not for profit’ organisation which represents a diverse range of rural service providers in the public, private and voluntary sectors.
The Commissioners convened with police officers and representatives from the Rural Services Network, Farmers Weekly Magazine, National Community Safety Network, the online crime reporting system ‘Facewatch’, the Country Land and Business Association and other rural stakeholders, to explore the concept in more detail.
“There is good collaborative work already occurring in some localities but it is widely acknowledged that sharing of best practice is patchy and urgently needs to be improved. The Network will ensure that this is effectively coordinated and sustained, added Mr. Payne.
It will also be developing strong links to academic research resources as well promoting successful techniques to encourage rural communities to become more self -resilient in these difficult times.
Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger, said, “Despite Cleveland being a predominantly urban policing area, we have large swathes of countryside on our borders with North Yorkshire and Durham. I am committed to engaging with all of Cleveland’s diverse communities, and this includes farmers and rural communities.
“I have been out on a rural operation to better understand the issues that rural communities face and I am committed to tackling these issues in partnership. I am confident that developing an effective rural network, effective participation with others, learning about what works well, and considering innovative ways of assisting our rural communities in this regard can only be of positive benefit in successfully challenging rural offending, crime and antisocial behaviour.”
Once established the Network will provide an online resource for police, community safety practitioners and others to interact, to share information, training development, access to case studies and link up with other mechanisms for reporting crime and/or suspicious behaviour.
A smaller working group will now refine some initial Terms of Reference and explore ways in which the ICT infrastructure that will be required for the Network to function can be funded and most efficiently established.
Posted on Thursday 6th February 2014