Crime in rural areas poses its own special problems – the often long distances involved can slow down response times, fewer people out and about can make witnesses difficult to find and unlit roads provide cover at night for criminals. But those who live in rural areas need and deserve to be protected against crime, and to have crimes rigorously investigated as much as anyone else.
That is why I was so pleased to learn that a new Rural Crime Team is being piloted in North West Leicestershire. I was particularly pleased to see that the new Team will be working closely with the NFU and other interested bodies. It is to be hoped that this pilot will prove to be a success. I look forward to the team in North West Leicestershire getting to work, learning lessons and finding truly effective ways to tackle Rural Crime in Leicestershire. Then the programme can be expanded to include all of rural Leicestershire and Rutland.
The statement issued by Leicestershire Police is set out below:
The force is piloting a new rural crime team in North West Leicestershire.
A team of three, comprising Sergeant Linsey Booth, PC Emma Holmes, and PCSO Tony Gallagher will work alongside neighbouring forces, as well the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) to tackle rural crime including agricultural, equine, wildlife and heritage.
Sergeant Booth said: “We want to enhance our relationship with our rural communities to ensure that crimes are reported and dealt with as quickly as possible and that the relevant information and advice is received by those who need it.
“Rural crime is an issue for large areas of the country, but it tends to go unreported and can impact on insurance premiums, food prices and damage local communities.
“In the past few months we have held rural crime events which have been very well attended so it’s clear there is an appetite for working together with the rural community and partners.
“We hope that by doing so we can develop cross-border intelligence, visit hot spot areas to offer crime prevention tips and increase awareness in general about what constitutes a crime.
“We’ll be holding interactive events with key partners and are already looking at ways of creating early warning systems once a crime has taken place through our online scheme Rural Watch and fast text.”
Heritage crime is defined as ‘any offence which harms the value of heritage assets and their setting’ and includes offences like lead theft from churches, damage to ancient monuments and illegal metal detecting.
Wildlife crime includes hare coursing, poaching and interfering with protected species, while agricultural crime covers farms, small holdings, machinery, and includes theft of equipment or fuel and damage to property and livestock.
Harriet Ranson, NFU county adviser for Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland, said: “Rural crime is a blight on our countryside and has a huge impact on victims, who find themselves feeling isolated and unprotected.
“This move to bring in a rural crime team is a great step forward in tackling criminals who target farmers and rural communities.
“Police forces having dedicated rural crime teams shows they are taking these type of offences seriously - the NFU wants to see every force in the country putting resources into creating RCTs in this way.”