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Handbook aimed at helping cut crime in rural areas is launched

A Rural Crime Handbook which gives advice on a range of issues such as fly-tipping, hare coursing and sheep worrying has been launched in a bid to help tackle countryside crime.

Put together by our Reduction Officer with contributions from a number of partners, including the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the Environment Agency, the Home Office and local farmers, the handbook contains advice on crimes which affect Bedfordshire’s rural communities, such as modern day slavery.

It was launched at a special event at the Rufus Centre in Flitwick on Thursday (10 October) as part of the Rural Crime Week of Action, and has been supported by Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway.

She said: “My Police and Crime Plan specifies as a priority that we must give a fair share of policing to those who live in the country, just as we do to those who live in our towns. Therefore, it’s absolutely imperative that we work with farmers and residents of rural parishes and produce a consistent approach from policing to crimes which take place because they occur in such locations.

"This handbook marks an important step forward for Bedfordshire Police and the residents of rural communities alike and it’s particularly timely that it’s been launched in Rural Crime Week.

"Our rural crime team, Op Sentinel Rural, has chalked up very significant successes in the past year. Targeted operations concerning cars and vans that haven’t been appropriately insured, taxed or which are without MOTs, have deprived those involved in criminality in the countryside of the use of the road. We’ve worked with neighbouring forces and have focused on matters such as hare coursing together to prevent damage to crops and the illegal betting of tens of thousands of pounds on the outcomes."

Rural businesses are often seen as a soft target by thieves for a number of reasons. Many farms, equestrian premises and industrial estates are remote, spread over a large area of land, unoccupied overnight and contain plant and materials of high value.

Also in attendance was Deputy Chief Constable, Trevor Rodenhurst, who said: “Rural crime can be complex and challenging to investigate. It isn't just low level offences, as a range of serious and organised crime can take place in our rural areas, so it's important we engage and work closely with our partners and communities.

“This handbook is an excellent example of the importance of such partnership working. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the handbook and Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway for supporting its launch.”

Oliver Rubinstein, from the NFU, said: “Rural crime is an enormous issue for farmers in Bedfordshire and nationally is estimated to have cost the UK £50m last year.

"Unfortunately many farmers have already had to take quite dramatic steps to limit their vulnerability, such as blocking off field entrances and digging ditches, however, this handbook is a valuable resource that we can share with members to help them make sure they’ve taken all the necessary steps.”