Rural crime costs £800 million in 2014
A survey conducted by the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) reveals that crime in rural areas in England and Wales cost over £800 million in 2014 alone.
The poll of 17,000 people found that rural crime costs victims 21 times more than previous estimates revealed by insurance company NFU Mutual. Rather than the original figure of £37.8 million, it on average, costs rural households £2,500 and businesses £4,000.
The NRCN, created by police and crime commissioners, aims to emphasise the prevalence of crime in rural areas and states that the estimated figure of £800 million took into account the survey’s suggestion that 27% of crimes went unreported in rural areas.
Crime in rural areas pose difficulties for police forces with limited resources and is reflected in its low satisfaction rates. The survey found that while 63% of people asked throughout England and Wales rated the police as good or excellent, only 39% of those asked in rural areas did the same.
The NRCN is calling for police resources to be better assigned to “ensure the assessment of threat, risk and harm is as applicable to rural communities as urban”.
In July, the UK government stated that it would establish a consultation that would look at reforming the Police Allocation Formula to improve its resource allocation. Currently the formula uses data on specific areas and factors such as population density to calculate how many resources each police force is given.
Sheep rustling alone cost farmers over £6.5 million
In recent years, sheep-rustling has been a growing problem, with approximately 80,000 sheep stolen from farmers every year. This is costing farmers over a staggering £6.5 million a year and creating great difficulty for police forces who are having to learn how to identify sheep with their owners.
In June this year, Lincolnshire witnessed one of Britain’s largest ever sheep-rustling crimes when a flock of 600 lambs and sheep from one farm went missing after an organised criminal gang managed to break through the gate and round up the sheep using a sheepdog. This one crime alone saw £100,000 worth of lambs and sheep stolen, and with a spate of other rural crimes including thefts of farm equipment, such as water troughs, pressure washers, and car vandalism leaving the family worried for their safety, they are now in the process of giving up farming.
Just one month later, cattle estimated to be worth £18,000 was stolen in North Cornwall, while in another case, one farmer in the local area was found guilty of stealing cattle to the value of £8,000.
These crimes not only create a huge financial risk for the farmers themselves through loss of stock, but it also means herds are often put under restriction, limiting future sales potential too. However, it is not only finances that are heavily affected. When stolen animals are removed from official disease control measures, this can increase the risk of spreading disease.
Tackling rural crime
Security and vigilance is therefore a key measure that rural areas should adopt to minimise the amount of crime committed. In 2013, CIA reported that community watch schemes (60%) and social media use such as via Twitter (47%) are the most common methods utilised to communicate crime alerts and important information within the community.
CIA recommends that farmers looking to maximise their security operations should start with low-tech, common-sense measures known as target hardening. “Basically, the phrase ‘target hardening’ concerns making theft more difficult for the would-be thieves by simply improving gates, locks, chains, fencing and posts to act as deterrent”, says Colin Whittaker, a CIA security systems designer.
If you’re looking to prioritise the protection of livestock, thermal imaging camera video surveillance systems is the ideal solution. “Its software can reliably distinguish between humans and animals, even at more than a mile away”, Colin goes on to say. “It has battery-powered portable CCTV with built-in movement sensors monitored by an RVRC (remote video response centre) via cellular networks and sophisticated wireless infrared beam fence systems that are commonly used for military applications.”
More common means can be used for protecting tractors and pesticides, like conventional CCTV systems and intruder alarm systems as they are generally in and around buildings. However, these need specialist expertise upon specification, and intricate customisation when installing to work effectively in their specific environment or circumstances.
Colin, who started as an apprentice engineer over thirty years ago, adds “it’s no good installing a monitoring system that is going to false alarm as the police withdraw attendance after three false alarms in any rolling 12 month period”.
Any farmer who would like advice on what measures are available can call and speak to us directly on 02392 265111 (choose option 3). Or alternatively, fill in our online form and we’ll call you within office hours to arrange a free security survey.