Concerns at 'leniency' towards rural crime

Prosecutions of rural crime and the sentences given do not act as a suitable deterrent, the solicitor general for England and Wales has been told.

The warning was issued by the National Farmers Union during a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Rural Crime.

At the meeting, the NFU told solicitor general Robert Buckland QC MP there was a need for an effective justice system that reflected the true costs of rural crime to farmers.

It comes amid ongoing concern that the police are not getting the resources needed to combat crime in the countryside – including rural theft, fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour.

Findings from the latest survey aimed at documenting the extent of rural crime are expected to be published later this month by the National Rural Crime Network.

NFU chief land management adviser Sam Durham said: “Rural crime has devastating impacts for farmers and food producing businesses.

“It is only right that the punishments handed down to these criminals are severe enough to act as a deterrent.

“This was an excellent opportunity to meet with the solicitor general to raise these points and how rural crime affects farmers and rural communities.”

The meeting follows the launch of the NFU’s Rural Crime Reporting Line in partnership with Crimestoppers, which encourages farmers to report information anonymously.

The line allows farmers give information about large-scale industrial fly-tipping, hare-coursing and theft by calling 0800 783 0137 or visiting

NFU deputy president Guy Smith said the growing problem of rural crime was one of the most frequent conversations he had with NFU members and a key priority for the union.

“It may well be that these criminals have more in common with serious, organised crime than petty theft,” said Mr Smith.

“It is clear that there must be a co-ordinated approach between police and government to properly tackle this blight on the countryside.”


Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.