The largest ever survey of crime in rural areas reveals an unprecedented £800m crime bill and widespread concern regarding police response times

The survey of over 17,000 people in England and Wales would suggest that the true cost of crime in rural areas could exceed £800m. A staggering sum that by far exceeds any previous estimate. The survey also suggests that young families and the farming community are most likely to be victims of crime.

Aligned to the figures surrounding victims, the survey also indicates that there is a low level of confidence in the ability of police forces to deal with crime and that there is a chronic under reporting of crime in rural areas.  These satisfaction levels are significantly lower than the national average. The survey report alludes to a 27% under reporting figure, which if true would suggest a massive number of crimes going under reported. This has great significance when viewed in terms of signal crimes, which are seen as indicators of more serious crimes to follow and are often relevant when dealing and investigating serious offences, such as metal theft.

Many rural businesses face challenging times in a recession, and the wider impact of crimes in rural areas such as metal theft and fuel theft often lead to loss of amenities and further economic costs. The resilience of businesses can be put at risk by crime. Concern has also voiced over police response times to crimes reported as being in progress, with one shop-keeper in Hawes, North Yorkshire being told that the nearest Police Officer was 41 miles away, when she reported a burglary in progress at her premises.

We know that the police along with other public services are facing un-precedented budget cuts, with the Chancellor asking for plans to be drawn up reflecting further 20% and 40% cuts.

Julia Mulligan, chair of the NRCN and Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, (Pictured) said: “Our report comes at a critical time when the structure and funding for policing are being fundamentally reassessed. Some of the findings in this report make uncomfortable reading but it is vitally important for the reality of rural crime to be fully acknowledged and acted upon. Its actual scale is clearly much greater than we had previously known; £800m is a big number. The low satisfaction rates also need to be a wake up call for police forces in rural areas and everything should be done to harness the opportunities presented. Good, accessible local policing is central to this and I believe police forces which significantly shrink their local teams in rural areas do so at their peril.”  

Trace-in-Metal Ltd. Managing Director John Minary said of the survey: “The thin blue line has never been thinner. Indeed this survey reveals that it is no more than a thread stretching across our rural landscapes. Never has it been more necessary for individuals and businesses to do all that they can to improve their own security and prevent crime.”