NFU East Midlands joined forces with a group of MPs and police chiefs this week to map out what more needs to be done to crack down on countryside crime.
Lincolnshire MPs and senior officers from the county’s police force met NFU staff and representatives at the high-level gathering in Westminster on Wednesday 11 October.
The meeting, chaired by Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman, looked at rural crime across Lincolnshire, the police approach to tackling it and how all involved can work better together to rid the region of hare coursers, thieves and fly-tippers.
NFU deputy president Guy Smith, who also attended the talks, said: “Rural crime devastates farmers, their families and their communities.
“Those responsible for this blight on our countryside are suspected of having links to organised crime. It is vital we bring them to justice.
“And that’s why it’s crucial that we maintain a close relationship with our MPs and police chiefs, letting them know what members’ concerns are over this issue and offering our help to inform their approach.”
NFU Holland (Lincs) county adviser Danny O’Shea said: “This meeting brings together the key players in the fight against rural crime and it’s great that we held it in the corridors of power – the place where our message needs to be heard.
“Lincolnshire Police has really led the way with initiatives like Operation Galileo which targets rural crime and has made a real impact.
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“Progress has been made but there’s also plenty more to do; we’re determined to keep up the pressure and I want to continue working with Lincolnshire Police and the county’s police and crime commissioner Marc Jones to kick rural crime out of the county.”
MPs who attended were Matt Warman, Karen Lee and Dr Caroline Johnson.
The meeting heard the NFU’s top four requests to Westminster to help deal with rural crime issues more effectively. These are:
· Amendment to the 1831 Game Act
Call for support of an amendment to the 1831 Game Act which would give police & magistrates powers to seize dogs and reclaim associated kennelling costs from offenders.
· Magistrate & Crown Prosecution Service training and guidance
Ensure that Magistrates and Crown Prosecutors receive consistent training on the true impact of rural crime and access to clearer guidance on the use of Community Impact Statements and the use of expert witnesses.
· Extension of Criminal Behaviour Orders
Call for Criminal Behaviour Orders to be used across a wider geography for incidents of hare coursing, rather than simply in the county the incident took place.
· Fair funding for rural policing
The current formula used to allocate government money to police forces doesn’t take account of the policing needs of rural areas. Many issues unique to rural areas are not taken into account when deciding the levels of government funding allocated to policing those areas, including the influx of tourists over summer and the vulnerability of isolated rural communities.
The NFU has been at the vanguard of addressing rural crime and, thanks to our partnership with Crimestoppers, we now have a dedicated hotline to report incidents 100% anonymously.
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You can either call the dedicated Rural Crime Reporting Line on 0800 783 0137 or visit www.ruralcrimereportingline.uk to give information anonymously about one of these four crimes:
- Large-scale, industrial fly-tipping
- Hare coursing
- Livestock theft
- Machinery theft