Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway and Deputy Chief Constable Mark Collins took to the Bedfordshire countryside to launch the county’s new plan for rural policing.
The new country strategy is based on crime figures recording 101 rural crimes, nearly half of which involved businesses and stables as well as farm buildings, over six months from September 2015 to March 2016. It also builds on a report from the National Rural Crime Survey estimating the true cost of crime in the country as a whole as over £800 million a year, with farmers and young families the most frequent victims.
The new Rural Crime Strategy for Bedfordshire includes the following:-
· The appointment of a dedicated Rural Crime Liaison Officer to work with farmers and link to Parish Councils and key community groups and events.
· A Rural Crime Intelligence Network of contacts provided by the National Farmers Union across the entire county, as promised by the new Police and Crime Commissioner as part of her Police and Crime Plan for Bedfordshire and in the run-up to the May 5 election.
· Country crime prevention advice including new methods of monitoring vehicles as they enter approach roads to farms and a national scheme to record registration details of large agricultural vehicles and plant.
· Rural crime mapping to identify the nature of country crimes and direct police action.
· Daily online scrutiny of email crime intelligence from rural communities on the account firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Regular crime reports to the key contacts provided in the farming community.
· Visits to repeat victims of crime.
· Visiting saturation policing of rural communities using teams of Special Constables to target problems such as fly-tipping.
· Extending Rural Specials, focussing on existing volunteers engaged in schemes such as Streetwatch and Speedwatch, to up-skill and gain full policing powers plus recruitment of older Specials wanting to work in their own communities.
· Recruiting rural residents into the Beds Alert service to provide a wider link-up to Bedfordshire Police to pass on details of crime and receive messages on police progress, of particular benefit in areas without access to local newspapers.
The Commissioner and Deputy Chief Constable, returned to Scald End Farm, north of Bedford, to launch the new country deal, after attending a Rural Fire and Crime event at the farm on March 21 where the input of members of the National Farmers’ Union formed the basis of the new direction in rural policing.
“We went to see every one of those farmers, including a gentleman who had thought nothing had happened concerning a large and expensive piece of plant – a chipper – and were able to tell him we had been able to prosecute the individual responsible. It all pointed to a need to really get back to basics and make relationships with farmers and keep rural communities better informed,” said DCC Collins.
“I made a firm promise to the rural community that they would get a fairer deal on policing as so many felt that all the resources to deal with crime were being sucked into the big towns in the county like Luton and Bedford,” said Commissioner Holloway.
“The NFU made it absolutely clear that they were prepared to help and, let’s face it, if you’re a farmer travelling around Bedfordshire at 15 mph on top of a large farm vehicle you notice plenty of what’s happening in your community and where the problems, like fly-tipping and other anti-social behaviour, are developing,” she said.
“For too long our countryside had lost out when it came to tackling crime. Farmers and their neighbours told me that they feel quite literally isolated and, occasionally, in genuine danger when having to face those arriving to commit break-ins, to poach or take part in other illegal activity such as hare-coursing, since police back-up can clearly take longer to arrive than if they lived in the town and closer to the Bedford and Luton 999 response hubs. This new country deal aims to help address this.”