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From the editor: Police must join the dots in countryside crime battle

This week from the editor, Ben Briggs.

Once the glow from urban street lighting ends and the land slips in to the darkness of rural Britain, life does not simply cease to exist. I know I am preaching to the converted, but having read the report from NFU council in which police admit to not fully understanding the true scale of the rural crime network, it seems they might have had a moment of realisation.

 

For years, farmers and rural business owners have known the real cost of rural crime. When a spate of Land Rover or ATV thefts has hit a certain area, there has often been a sneaking suspicion these are being put in to containers and shipped overseas.

 

The demand for stolen goods and the persistency of thefts can seem so high that surely the police must have had an inkling these were not just isolated incidents, but rather part of a wider network of criminality stretching back to more organised gangs and objectives. It is one thing, after all, to steal a mobile phone or smaller piece of kit, but machinery and implements are not easily sold on the black market in towns or cities.

 

Police acknowledgement will go a long way to tackling to tackling the issue and reassuring rural communities that effective policing will be on hand. The longer term challenge will be the same as it is for other state-funded entities, be that the NHS or schools, and that is that the urban-centric forces will often get priority because they have higher demand.

 

In an era of funding cuts it will be interesting to see how the balancing act can be maintained between ensuring urban forces get the support they need, while at the same time enabling rural forces to go about their duties in a coherent manner.

 

For rural communities, crime is not just a case of implements, livestock or cash going missing; it is a blight which heightens the sense of isolation many in rural areas often feel. This is only amplified if they feel police forces are not listening. Maybe this week’s comments can mark a sea change in how rural policing is prioritised.

 

And finally, if you can’t wait for the latest from the Royal Highland Show, check out fginsight.com/shows for up-to-date results.


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