The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Navigating Organised Crime in Rural Communities

The National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) has recently unveiled findings that cast new light on the challenges rural communities face regarding organised crime. A collaborative effort led by Durham University, with contributions from several key rural organisations including the CLA, the report brings to the forefront the evolving nature of criminal activities in rural settings, grounded in comprehensive research and analysis.

Authored by Dr. Kate Tudor, a senior criminologist, the report presents a detailed analysis of the criminal activities targeting rural communities. It identifies a pattern of criminality not as isolated incidents but as part of a broader, more systemic problem perpetrated by 'prolific rural offenders.' These individuals, or groups, are not just engaged in opportunistic crime but are deeply embedded in the fabric of organised crime, with activities extending from the supply and sale of drugs to international smuggling operations.

One of the more striking revelations from the study is the identification of 22 organised crime gangs actively operating within the UK's rural sectors. The report indicates a gap in the formal recognition and monitoring of these groups by law enforcement, which in turn affects the prioritisation and allocation of resources to combat these crimes effectively. This issue is compounded by the criminals' strategic movements across police jurisdictions, exploiting procedural and operational limitations.

The impact of these organised crimes on rural communities is multifaceted, affecting both the economic well-being and the social fabric of these areas. For instance, the theft of agricultural machinery and vehicles, highlighted in the report, has seen a financial toll of £11.7 million, marking a significant increase from the previous year. Other crimes, such as hare coursing, poaching, livestock theft, and fly-tipping, not only incur direct costs but also contribute to a sense of vulnerability and insecurity among rural residents.

In response to these challenges, the NRCN has proposed a 10 Point Plan aimed at enhancing the response to rural crime. These include updating the College of Policing's THRIVE guidelines to better reflect the complexities of rural criminality and introducing specialist rural crime coordinators. Such measures are designed to improve the efficacy of law enforcement in rural areas, ensuring a more tailored and informed approach to combating these issues.

The call to action is clear, as expressed by Tim Passmore, Chair of the NRCN and PCC for Suffolk, who stresses the importance of acknowledging and addressing the unique challenges faced by rural areas in the context of organised crime. The collective effort to adapt and strengthen rural policing strategies is essential for the protection and well-being of these communities.

For a more detailed understanding of the findings and to explore the recommended actions further, the full report can be found here.

Kerry Booth, Chief Executive, Rural Services Network

"At the RSN, our commitment to rural communities is unwavering as we seek to elevate awareness, foster engaging discussions, and advocate for policies that meet the distinct needs of our rural areas. This report illuminates the complex issue of rural crime, emphasising the critical need for united efforts in bolstering the safety and resilience of rural areas across England. Importantly, it brings to the forefront the pressing requirement for equitable funding allocations, ensuring rural regions have the necessary resources to effectively tackle these challenges."

The Rural Services Network is a board member of the National Rural Crime Network.



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