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Rural crime rising fast, says latest report

The cost of rural crime is rising at its fastest level since 2010, reveal the latest figures from rural insurer NFU Mutual.

Overall, rural crime cost an estimated £44.5m in 2017 – an increase of 13.4% on the previous year, according to the company's 2018 Rural Crime Report.

Across the UK, the cost of rural crime has risen most sharply in Wales, up 41% on the previous year, followed by the Midlands which is up 32%, while the south-east has seen a rise of 30%.

The cost of rural theft in Scotland has fallen 3.8%, while the north-east is the only English region showing a fall, down 6.5%.

The report has also found that limited police resources and repeat attacks are the biggest fears for people in rural communities, with many forced to change the way they live and work as a result of rural crime.

“With police facing huge challenges – including budget cuts and extra workload – forces are finding it hard to resource rural policing and this may be one of the reasons for the rise in thefts we are seeing,” said NFU rural affairs specialist Tim Price.

“However social media is fast becoming the new eyes and ears of the countryside, strengthening the community ties that help in the reporting and recording of crime and bringing thieves to justice.”

As the main insurer of the countryside, NFU Mutual has responded to its members’ concerns and has invested more than £1.2m to tackle the menace of rural crime.

“The results of initiatives we support show clearly that when police, farmers and other rural organisations tackle rural crime in an organised way these schemes can be extremely effective.”

For seven years NFU Mutual has funded a specialist agricultural vehicle police officer through the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS).

The police officer coordinate farm machinery theft information between police forces, Border Force and Interpol.

NFU Mutual is also part of a rural policing strategic review organised by the Police Chiefs’ Council, and its figures are used to help constabularies plan rural policing.

In Scotland, NFU Mutual provides financial support for the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime. It also provides support and expert advice to many local farm and rural watch schemes.

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