Four police and crime commissioners from Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire have signed a rural crime agreement as they look to tackle the issue head-on.
Signed at a rural crime summit organised by Lorne Green, the commissioner for Norfolk, its aim is to work across county borders to tackle rural crime.
Mr Green said: “People here in Norfolk told me about their crime and policing concerns and what they felt they needed from the police to feel safer living or working in their local area.
“The rural crime issues affecting our county are by no means unique to Norfolk. Criminals do not respect county boundaries and that is why eastern region PCCs are pledging to join forces, work across borders and be united in our commitment to fighting rural crime.”
Lincolnshire police have a track record of working with neighbouring forces on rural crime.
‘Operation Galileo’ was set up in conjunction with the NFU to deal with the problem of hare coursing across Lincolnshire and the other counties which border it.
Gordon Corner, NFU county adviser for Lincolnshire, arranged a series of meetings with police and crime commissioner Marc Jones, who agreed to begin confiscating the dogs involved in hare coursing. They can be worth up to £30,000, so are a big loss to their owners.
A WhatsApp group was set up for affected farmers to share information about hare coursing events and photographs of offenders’ cars with each other and the police.
A separate text message police helpline, half-funded by the NFU, was also created for farmers to use when they had details of offences.
The new measures have seen a 170 per cent increase in arrests and reports for summons.
Mr Corner said police bearing down on other types of rural crime such as fly-tipping could use similar measures, adding: “The WhatsApp groups and helpline going to the police could be the way to go. The police can see the extent of the crime when they have people telling them what is happening, and communicating the scale of the problem is half the battle.”