LOCAL police say they have stepped up efforts to tackle rural crime after the largest ever survey into it revealed an unprecedented £800m bill in England and Wales – 21 times higher than the previous figures.
The National Rural Crime Network’s (NRCN) survey of over 17,000 people living and working in rural areas also indicated that farmers and hard-pressed young families are the most frequent victims of crime, with the average cost of those crimes to a household being over £2,500 and for a business over £4,000.
In response West Mercia’s deputy Police & Crime Commissioner Barrie Sheldon said: “The results of the survey will come as no surprise to many of us in West Mercia.
“The public have been telling us about the importance of rural crime for some time now. We’ve listened, and that’s why we have made it a priority locally.
“Our new strategy, funding and partnership work are all making positive steps in improving the service people get, and we are seeing confidence growing in our rural communities. We will keep listening, and talking with people to make sure those improvements continue.
“We will continue to push for improved rural policing at a local level, and more recognition of the issue of rural crime at a national level.”
The NRCN survey also found that fear of crime is increasing – 39 per cent of rural people are very or fairly worried about becoming a victim of crime, compared to 19 per cent nationally. Even more worryingly, 32 per cent of respondents are more fearful of becoming victims of crime than five years ago, compared to only three per cent who are less fearful. Rural businesses are the most fearful of becoming victims of crime, with 51 per cent very or fairly fearful, closely followed by younger families.
It also found low satisfaction rates of police performance in rural areas – just 39 per cent of rural people rate the police as good or excellent. Among rural businesses this figure was just 32 per cent. Those figures compare to 63 per cent nationally who think the police is doing a good job.
The survey showed satisfaction levels drop to just 23 per cent when it comes to the rural public’s perceptions of the police’s ability to solve crime.