Drug-related crime in cities is swallowing up so much police resource that rural areas cannot be properly protected, the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has said.
Mayor James Palmer, who ran his family’s dairy business before being elected, told a Countryside Alliance event at Conservative Party Conference in Manchester this week that the problem was exacerbated by the size of rural counties.
“The issues are relatively clear,” he said.
“70 per cent of all crime in Cambridgeshire is drug-related, and therefore mainly based around towns and cities. That is where the resources of the police are taken up.
“Unfortunately, rural areas do not get blanket coverage of policing for that main reason.”
Another panellist at the event, leader of Worthington Borough Council Daniel Humphreys, said more money should be funnelled to rural areas through Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure crime was properly tackled.
But he also suggested improving take-up of technology, such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), had been too slow in the countryside and was affecting police officers’ ability to catch criminals.
“The reason these things are solved more quickly by the police in urban areas as opposed to rural areas is ANPR,” he said.
“We have not got enough of that in rural and non-metropolitan areas, so that is something they could look at to help find out who is driving round in the dead of night.”
Ludlow MP Philip Dunne, who was also on the event panel, echoed the concerns around technology take-up and said he was championing the use of SmartWater in his constituency.
“SmartWater is a unique identifier which comes in a pen,” he said.
“You mark your goods with it and it can be identified back to the pen. It lasts for years and it helps enormously with valuable items like quad bikes or tractors.
“The police authorities which are using it all carry UV lights so they can check the goods straight away.
“You put up signs to warn the thieves you have got this product, and it is proving pretty effective.
“In one town of about 2,000 people where they got 90 per cent of the households to adopt SmartWater, they reduced the burglary rate to zero for the first two years after it was employed.”