Back British Farming: the ways we're making rural crime a priority

A farmer on his mobile phone reporting fly-tipping on his land

Rural crime is a serious problem for our members and those who live and work in the countryside, with it costing the UK £49.5 million in 2022 alone. 

As part of the Back British Farming campaign, this is a priority for the NFU all year round, but PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) elections this year provide an added opportunity to shine a light on the impacts of rural crime.

We continue to raise the issue at the highest levels of government as we call for rural England to be part of the Prime Minister’s Levelling Up strategy. 

Following our campaign work, 50,000 members of the public signed a letter from the NFU that was sent to newly elected commissioners last time. It highlighted the devastating impact of crime in rural communities and the urgent need for a cross-departmental rural crime task force, which should support a joined-up government approach to address the failures in dealing with rural crime.  

Our work is ongoing, but this spell of campaigning saw our regional teams meet with more than 35 PCCs to highlight local issues and action needed. Fly-tipping, sky lanterns, hare coursing, dog attacks and theft were all high up the agenda.  

The NFU is seeking a consistent and coordinated response to rural crime across government and police forces that reflects its impact on rural communities as part of our 2024 general election manifesto.


  • Nearly 50,000 people signed a letter to Police and Crime Commissioners, calling on them to make rural crime a priority.  
  • More than 25,000 people signed an open letter to local councillors seeking an increase in the issue of fixed penalty notices to deter fly-tippers and promotion of the household duty of care to help householders know their responsibilities. 

Sky lanterns 

  • We launched a petition so that NFU members, farmers and the public can show their support for a total ban in England and Wales. It has now been signed over 100,000 times and is acknowledged by Defra who describe the NFU as ‘vociferous campaigners against sky lantern releases’.  Defra are now reviewing an impact assessment on sky lanterns.
  • 17 leading farming, environment, animal and fire organisations signed a letter sent to Environment Minister Rebecca Pow MP in April 2021, calling for stronger legislation to ban sky lanterns nationally. 
  • In November 2022, we wrote to then Environment Minister Trudy Harrison MP to reiterate our ask for a national ban on sky lanterns. She responded to inform us that Defra had commissioned research into the harms caused by sky lanterns.
  • A year later, we wrote to Defra again, calling for the research findings to be shared given the ongoing support from the public calling for a ban. 
  • To date, 200 councils have already banned sky lanterns thanks to our campaign work since 2013.  

Dog attacks  

  • The government has announced its support for a Private Members’ bill brought by Thérèse Coffey MP in February 2024, which would increase police powers to crack down on irresponsible dog owners whose pets attack livestock. Research from NFU Mutual has revealed that farm animals worth an estimated £2.4 million were severely injured or killed by dogs in 2023, up nearly 30% from the previous year.
  • The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was introduced in Parliament in the Autumn of 2021. This Bill did not make it past report stage.
  • Virginia Crosbie MP(Ynys Môn) showed great support for this issue, and tabled a Bill in Parliament in July 2021 which sought to introduce changes to legislation to help tackle livestock worrying. 
  • Over 20,000 people signed an NFU petition, calling on newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to implement changes to legislation to prevent dog attacks on farm animals. Virginia spoke about the petition to show support for the Bill she tabled in Parliament. 
  • Building on work with the Countryside Code, we teamed up with ‘the dogfather’ Graeme Hall to remind dog owners to keep their dog on a lead. This message was seen by 816,000 people. 

Now we're asking you to join the thousands of people who've already added their names to our calls for the government to urgently strengthen the law to protect livestock from dog attacks.

Add your name now

See our manifesto asks

Our manifesto

Our general election manifesto – Farming for Britain's Future – outlines our key asks of the next government to ensure farmers and growers can continue to deliver for the environment, economy and local communities while producing more of the great British food we all enjoy.

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