Rural Crime in Gloucestershire increasing at a rate more than 4 times the National Average
Our County police recently held its annual Rural Crime week. Martin Surl, our Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, appears to be very pleased that the week was focussed on fighting wildlife crime.
Yes, dreadful things like hare coursing do indeed need to be tackled but should that be the force's top rural priority?
I am constantly hearing from our rural community that they want protection first for their work critical property and livestock (including protection from the rising number of dog thefts).
The NFU Mutual recently published its annual assessment of the insurance cost of Rural Crime, which is being driven by thefts of high value tractors, quad bikes, other farm vehicles and livestock.
The average financial impact of a crime on rural business owners is at least £4,800.
Although NFU Mutual reported a pleasing 7.6% drop for Gloucestershire (down to just under £1.6M in 2019), compared to a 9% increase nationally, that reduction in our County figure still leaves us the worst in the South West and hides our appalling performance historically.
Since 2013, our Commissioner's first full year in post, the annual insurance claim cost of Rural Crime nationally, has increased by around a fifth (from £44.5M to £54.3M).
But in Gloucestershire over the same time period, our Rural Crime has soared and is now nearly double what it was (from £820,000 to almost £1.6M), so it is increasing at a rate more than 4 times the national average!!
Over the last 8 years, our County has consistently suffered from one of the worst rates of rural crime cost per 100,000 population in the whole country.
Furthermore, the 2015 National Rural Crime Survey has indicated that the real cost of crime could be 20 times greater than the insurance cost, partly because only 1 in 4 report rural crime, as most believe it would be a waste of time to do so (according to the Countryside Alliance's latest survey).
My experience with people who live and work in rural areas of Gloucestershire clearly shows that theft is more than just an attack - it can be devastating for businesses and families.
The latest National Rural Crime Survey indicates that rural communities "are living on the edge - in fear of crime."
We deserve a better performance from our Commissioner, who needs to get his priorities right when focussing on Rural Crime.
Community Crime Fighter