The NFU has expressed concern as new figures show the cost of rural crime has risen to £44.5m and said this underlines the need for co-ordinated action from both Government and police. The figures from NFU Mutual show the cost of agricultural vehicle, quad and ATV theft, and livestock theft, has risen. Almost every region of the UK has seen a rise in rural crime.
NFU Deputy President Guy Smith said: “Without doubt, rural crime is one of the most pressing, impactful and devastating issues farmers are dealing with. These figures emphasise the seriousness of this issue and the NFU continues to work with MPs, government and police to help them deliver solutions that allow farmers to do what they do best – produce food for the nation. The impacts are far-reaching. Farms are not only places of business, but they are also homes. With many farmers experiencing intimidation, violence, threats and criminal acts right on their doorstep, the need for measures to curb this activity has never been greater.
“As NFU Mutual figures show, the cost of rural crime is at its highest for years. That is why it is a top priority for the NFU, and why we are pushing this issue up the Government’s agenda. It is also why we have recently launched a dedicated rural crime reporting line with Crimestoppers UK. Farmers, rural businesses and the public can anonymously give information about large-scale, industrial fly-tipping, hare coursing, livestock theft and machinery theft, and begin to end this blight on our countryside.”
As outlined in the NFU’s Combating Rural Crime report, the NFU is calling for both Government and police to:
- Form a cross-departmental rural crime taskforce. This must ensure that the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and all relevant departments, including the Welsh Government, DEFRA and the Housing, Communities & Local Government departments, work together with Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and police to address the failures in dealing with rural crime.
- Consult with all stakeholders to agree a definition of rural crime that can be used to inform consistent policy decisions and to enable accurate recording and target setting.
- For the Home Office to ensure fair funding for rural policing.
- For the Sentencing Council to review the range of rural crimes experienced by farming communities, to ensure that sentencing guidelines reflect the true cost and impact of these crimes and contain up-to-date information about the penalties that act as a disincentive for these crimes.
- Secure more funding for research to understand rural crime and its links to organised criminal networks. And for the Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research to prioritise research on how organised crime groups are operating in rural areas in the UK.