Keeping our rural areas safe is part three of Darryl Preston’s six-point plan to #GetCrimeCut in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough...
By investing in our Rural Crime Action Team to make sure that police can respond quickly when problems occur.
Keeping our rural areas safe
There is a perception by some that rural crime is not a priority, that it is about people trespassing on farmers’ land and letting dogs chase hares.
This is simply not the case.
Rural crime cost the UK £54.3m in 2019 – up by 9% on 2018 – with organised criminals using sophisticated methods to steal high value agricultural equipment, livestock and other property.
Unfortunately, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is the fourth worst affected county in the country, with a 17.8% increase in 2019 over 2018 (£2.02m vs £1.72m).* It’s unlikely 2020 will have been any better.
The £2m+ in Cambridgeshire is just the value of the equipment and livestock stolen – it doesn’t take into account the huge cost of damage to crops, fences and buildings.
The real cost is incalculable
If you add the massive amount of time wasted and all the extra costs involved in reporting, replacing, fixing and preventing, the real figure surrounding this criminal activity runs into many, many millions of pounds.
And then there’s the worry, too. Crime and the fear of crime deeply impacts our rural communities where many people – farmers in particular – are more remote and can feel less safe knowing that help may not be close at hand.
Serious threats by criminals and actual bodily harm to those defending their property and livelihoods is also all too common.
More than just the terrible slaughter of hares
Hare coursing continues to be a major problem in our county.
The criminals responsible can be highly intimidating and aggressive; large amounts of illicit cash changes hands during an ‘event’ and they care nothing for damaging crops and property.
They will often drive like maniacs to avoid being caught, and, sadly, when they are caught, the penalties are by no means the appropriate punishment or a deterrent.
Illegal encampments are another concern many residents have raised with me, impacting both our rural and urban communities. Fly tipping, although dealt with by your district council, is another criminal activity which disproportionately affects the countryside.
If you witness any of these activities taking place, you should always call the police on 999 and report it as a crime in progress.
Here to represent all who abide by the law
If elected, I will support and represent all our residents, including law-abiding members of the travelling community.
But I will not support those who cause disruption to our settled communities and break the law. I will hold the police to account for using powers they already have to keep all our residents safe and prevent crime.
I know many farmers and residents in our rural communities are mostly pragmatic and understanding the police cannot be everywhere.
But, they should expect a swift and robust police response when problems occur, along with a more visible presence in our rural communities to deter crime from happening in the first place.
If elected I will:
1. Make resources available to the Chief Constable to bolster the Rural Crime Action Team to make them more responsive to witnesses contacting the police to report hare coursing, Illegal encampments, fly tipping and other rural crimes.
2. Make resources available for more neighbourhood police officers in our rural communities.
3. Work with our MPs for tougher sentences for criminals caught hare coursing.
4. Bring all partners together – including farmers, Countryside Watch, NFU, agricultural machinery manufacturers and our County and District councils – to make sure we set a clear strategy to tackle rural crime.
5. Increase the use of technology to reach smaller communities quicker and deploy the resources where and when they are needed.
Darryl Preston is the Conservative candidate in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Police and Crime Commissioner election in May 2021. There's more about Darryl on the About Darryl Preston page.