The Police and Crime Commissioner and Deputy Chief Constable have launched a new deal on policing for the rural communities of Bedfordshire
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.
“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.
The new Rural Crime Strategy for Bedfordshire includes the appointment of a dedicated Rural Crime Liaison Officer to work with farmers and link to Parish Councils and key community groups and events and 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 will also feature, along with rural crime mapping to identify the nature of country crimes and direct police action.
The Commissioner and Deputy Chief Constable returned to Scald End Farm, north of Bedford, to launch the new country deal.
It followed a Rural Fire and Crime event at the farm in March 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” added DCC Collins.
“It all pointed to a need to really get back to basics and make relationships with farmers and keep rural communities better informed,” she added.
“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.”