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Rural crime soaring with Britons arming themselves with guard dogs | UK | News


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Crime has got worse in the last 12 months, according to nearly three out of four (73 per cent) of the more than 2,000 people who took part in research by the Countryside Alliance.

Twelve per cent feel unsafe after dark in their homes or communities – and 42% per cent feel less safe than they did five years ago.
The situation is so bad that 16 per cent say they have considered moving or leaving their local area because of crime – and 44% have “felt intimidated by criminality or criminals” over the last year.

More than a third (35 per cent) of respondents experienced a crime in the past year but around three out of 10 (29 per cent) of incidents were not reported to the police.

Half of these people said they thought reporting the crime was a waste of time, with 42 per cent thinking the police would not be able to help.

Of those who did report a crime, nearly six out of 10 (57 per cent) were dissatisfied with the police response, with a mere one in 20 very satisfied.

Rural residents are taking their own steps to protect themselves.

Of the half of people who have taken crime prevention measures:

–  72 per cent installed security lighting;
–  64 per cent installed CCTV, video, or infra-red systems.
– 17 per cent bought a guard dog.

The most commonly experienced crimes were fly-tipping (37 per cent), agricultural machinery theft (32 per cent), trespass (31 per cent), and wildlife crime/hare poaching (27 per cent).

Half of those surveyed “don’t think the police take rural crime seriously”. Nearly six out of 10 do not think rural policing has improved since Police and Crime Commissioners were introduced in 2012.

Sarah Lee of the Countryside Alliance said: “The scale of rural crime and the fear it generates paints a bleak picture of the reality of what living in the countryside can mean for many people. Rural communities sadly feel there is a complete disconnect between themselves and their local police force, made even worse by such a lack of visible policing.

“It appears the presence of a police and crime commissioner has done little to help with bridging that gap either. We know that many forces have taken strides in separating their police officers into urban and rural teams – which is welcome – but there is clearly a long way to go to establish trust and confidence in rural policing”.

Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, Steve Reed, said: “After 14 years of Conservative chaos, crime is out of control in our rural communities. Farm theft, fly-tipping and dog attacks on livestock go unpunished leaving victims in despair.

“Labour will put 13,000 new neighbourhood police and PCSOs on our streets, and make those who fly-tip to join clean-up squads to make amends for what they’ve done. Labour will give our countryside its future back.”

But a Home Office spokesman said: “We are committed to tackling rural crime, which is why we welcomed the rural and wildlife crime strategy published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council in September 2022, and are providing the police with the resources they need, after recruiting 20,000 additional officers.

“There are now a record number of police in England and Wales, and overall crime is down by 56%, excluding fraud and computer misuse, and we are supporting forces in rural areas through funding for crime prevention measures, such as CCTV and better technology.”

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