A report by Harper Adams University found of the estimated 137,000 farmers to have been victims of crime, 73,000 have been more than once.
A lack of consistency in how police define and report farm crime has prompted 80 per cent of farmers to suggest they are not doing enough to get to grips with the issue.
New research by Harper Adams University suggested of the estimated 137,000 farmers to have been victims of crime, 73,000 have been more than once.
It said police should be moving away from a business-as-usual type approach and instead look to offer effective crime prevention tailored to individual farmers, for both physical crime and cybercrime.
Time and cost were cited by farmers as key factors in a reticence to take action – with small and isolated farmers more vulnerable to crime – while communication was suggested as a ‘major barrier to successful crime resolution and prevention’.
Psychological impacts were also prevalent, boosting a fear of being targeted, eroding trust towards strangers and friends, and sleepless nights.
The report said: “Police may believe that farmers are resistant to change, but farmers are aware that more needs to be done to prevent crime.
“Many farmers also believe the police see them as ‘second-class citizens’, leading to a lack of engagement with crime prevention approaches and low levels of crime reporting to the police.”
Female and younger farmers were however more proactive with security precautions, and in seeking advice outside of the agricultural community.
But 32 per cent of rural crime is still not reported to the police – with only 40 per cent of all incidents reported to insurers.
Report author Dr Kreseda Smith said: “The research on farm crime paints a pretty bleak picture, and from talking to farmers, it is clear that the status quo is not working.
“Barriers urgently need to be overcome between those in the farming sector, police and insurers – and a greater understanding of what drives farmer crime prevention decision-making and behaviour is an essential part of this.”
Farmers speaking to Farmers Guardian said the government should be blamed for year-on-year cuts to police budgets and that the few rural crime teams available were ‘hamstrung with paperwork and red tape’.
Others in North Yorkshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire said the ‘two officers’ in their constituency relied on Whatsapp information. “All we get is emails and crime numbers,” one said.
NFU chief land management adviser Sam Durham said the report findings reinforced what members had been saying for years – that there needed to be ‘a consistent and co-ordinated approach’ between police, government departments and local authorities to tackle rural crime.
He said: “Warm words will not do; we need to see dedicated rural police teams in every force and fairer funding from the Home Office.
“The NFU has been leading the way on this issue and we will continue to press for answers at the highest levels of the police, Defra and Home Office.”