Despite 12 years of elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) we are still no closer to tackling Rural crime

Rural crime is one of those issues that cuts right to the heart of rural communities yet fails to make traction in the corridors of power, and still after 12 years of elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) we seem no closer to tackling the problem. 

The Countryside Alliance has long been a vocal campaigner on rural crime and was alarmed to see new research from the House of Commons Library revealing that the crime rate in rural areas has surged by 32% since 2011. This is compared to 24% for urban areas, with a total rise of almost 130,000 reported offences, including almost 30,000 more offences of criminal damage and arson.

Our annual Rural Crime Survey also revealed 50% of people who responded told us they don’t think the police take rural crime seriously and 35% said they have had a crime committed against them in the past 12 months. These figures are shocking and are reflected in the sentiment that rural communities often feel that the issues that impact them are not reflected in government policies.

We want to see the re-elected and newly elected Commissioners use the PCC elections as an opportunity to reset the relationship between the police and rural communities, working together to rebuild trust, and ensuring that the police take rural crime seriously. Our annual Rural Crime Survey demonstrates a feeling within rural communities that the police cannot do anything about many crimes. PCCs can ensure that police not only understand rural communities but also take action to reassure those who live and work in the countryside.

However, rural communities must play their part too, and they must report rural crime as non-reporting is a serious problem in the countryside. We appreciate many people are frustrated that rural crime is not taken seriously, so it would be a waste of their time to report it but the police cannot help if they don’t know there is a problem. Reporting crime helps build a picture so police can identify where hot spots are. We know it should be made easier for people to report crimes and we implore on PCCs to ensure the message of “reporting every crime” is understood by all communities and acted upon.

We have a rural population simply putting up with the crime they experience and making do as best they can. There is often no escape from the effects of rural crime, with the fear of crime doing just as much damage as the crimes that are committed.

As the crime rate is surging faster in rural areas than urban ones, we call upon the newly elected PCCs to tackle this problem head on. Nonetheless, they can’t do it on their own and they need rural communities to stand with them to tackle this stain in the countryside.

You can read the Countryside Alliance Police and Crime Manifesto here


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