Time is running out if you live in the countryside and want to have your say on how you feel crime is affecting your livelihood and your community.
The last National Rural Crime Survey put the huge cost of crime to families and businesses at a staggering £800 million per year. More difficult to put a figure on was fear, amidst claims of chronic under-reporting, anger and frustration at the police and government.
As a result, the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) produced a series of recommendations designed to tackle some of the issues. Three years later, the question posed by the current survey is, has anything changed? Has rural crime gone up or down in Gloucestershire? If you live in the countryside do you feel safer? What’s your view of the police in your community?
Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl, who was among the first PCCs to support a national network for rural crime, said: “It’s all about making sure the voice of rural communities is heard by those who can make a difference to where we live and work – from the Police to Government.
“Questions cover a range of issues – from whether you report crimes that you or your business suffers, to the impact crime and anti-social behaviour has on you and your community – and whether you believe enough is done to catch those who carry out the offences.
“I hope that anyone living or working in a rural community will spare a few minutes to complete our survey. It will provide a clear picture of what has improved, what challenges remain and what more government, police forces and organisations can do to support the most isolated parts of the country”.
The survey is available at www.nationalruralcrimenetwork.net and is open for submissions until Sunday 10 June.
Around 13,000 responded to the last survey in 2015 when one in four said they didn’t report the last time they had been a victim of crime because they didn’t see the point. One of the focuses this time will be whether rural crime continues to be underreported.
The National Rural Crime Network brings together Police and Crime Commissioners, police forces and organisations that play a key role in rural communities – like the Country Land and Business Association, the National Farmers Union, Neighbourhood Watch, Crimestoppers, Historic England and the Countryside Alliance.
The Network’s Chair, Julia Mulligan, said: “Our aim is to see greater recognition and understanding of the problems and impact of crime in rural communities so more can be done to help them be safe – and feel safe. In order to achieve that, we need to know the true picture of crime and anti-social behaviour that residents and businesses face.
“The 2015 findings uncovered some difficult truths for all those involved in protecting rural areas and now is the right time to see whether lessons have been learnt, whether people are more willing to report the crime they are victims of and if they do indeed feel safer.”
After the 2015 report, police forces across England and Wales made efforts to improve the way they dealt with crime that took place in rural areas. Gloucestershire has four dedicated rural crime officers embedded within its rural neighbourhood policing teams who are trained in wildlife and environmental crime and 13 forces now have dedicated rural crime teams.
The 2018 Survey will assess the impact these have had in an attempt to further showcase and roll-out best practice.
The results will also feed into the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s Rural Affairs National Strategy for 2018-2021 which is due to be launched later this year.