Region bucks the trend with fall in rural crime

PC Nicki Tipping with Richard Hilsdon of Boycott Farm, Stowe.
PC Nicki Tipping with Richard Hilsdon of Boycott Farm, Stowe.

Thames Valley has seen a drop in rural crime compared to national figures.

Rural crime fell last year by 19 per cent across Bucks, Oxon and Berks, according to a survey by NFU Mutual.

Thames Valley Police is one of the few forces across the country to have seen a decrease, while national figures show a 5.2 per cent increase.

Nationally, high-value tractors stolen for export, a substantial rise in sheep rustling and opportunist thefts of garden tools and ornaments helped push up the cost of rural crime to near record levels.

But in Bucks, rural crime claims cost £590,000 in 2013, compared with £820,000 in 2012.

In Oxon, the figure was down to £680,000, from £1 million the previous year.

Ch Supt Gilbert Houalla said: “Last year Thames Valley Police made concentrated efforts to speed up our progress in tacking rural crime by conducting intensive operations (100 days of action) to tackle criminals who target the rural economy, improve the security in the rural areas and gain the trust and confidence of the farming communities.

“Our officers learned more about how the farming community work and now understand the impact rural crime has on business and livelihoods. We have been able to pick up new skills that can be used to protect rural and farming communities and catch the criminals who target them.

“We do recognise that rural crime is a growing national problem and we will continue to tackle rural crime and drive those figures down further. The policing activities we implemented throughout last year are now business as usual for the whole Force.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said: “I made rural crime one of my key priorities and in doing so highlighted the great social and economic impact it has on isolated and vulnerable rural communities.

“I am delighted that the NFU figures show that there has been a large reduction in rural crime in the Thames Valley and I will continue to prioritise rural crime to help reduce the figures even further.

“In financial, commercial loss and intimidation terms, rural crime is a serious crime but it is now being dealt with seriously and real progress is being made.”