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From the editor: Scourge of rural crime must not be overlooked

The scourge of rural crime not only has huge financial implications, but it also has huge personal and emotional ramifications for those blighted by it.



The news this week that the cost of rural crime had spiralled to more than £42 million annually shows the huge strain it is putting on farmers.

 

It is also, no doubt, symptomatic of wider Government cuts which have seen police taken out of rural areas and more than 1,000 countryside police stations close in just over a decade.

 

The nature of those cuts means services classed as non-essential will find their budgets stripped back even more as the Government seeks to reel in public spending and debt.

 

As they cut, however, the effects of those cutbacks sometimes take years to filter through.

 

Maybe that is what is happening at the moment, with some suggesting farmers are often seen as ’soft targets’ for thieves, probably aware that call out times and police patrols are not what they once were. Yet the impact on farmers and their families is very real.

 

From machinery theft, to hare coursing, to fly tipping and sheep worrying, the threats to farmers’ livelihoods and land is myriad.

 

We also live in an era of social media, with even the smallest incidents flagged up for attention, and while this can no doubt have a positive impact in terms of alerting people to the threat posed by crime, it gives it a constant level of publicity which can lead some to feel even more under attack from criminals.

 

At the same time there is lots of good work going on to tackle rural crime, with police forces, unions, countryside organisations and farmers all teaming up to spread the word and keep people alert of the problems they face, with real action being achieved on many fronts.

 

In the long run, however, more must be done to drive down crime in rural areas and if further budget cuts do come, then farming and rural areas should not be seen as easy wins by Government Ministers looking to keep public spending in some form of check.

 

And finally, it’s great to see Budweiser backing British barley and providing a timely boost as harvest gathers pace.


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