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

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

A farmer reports 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 £54.3 million in 2019 alone. As part of the Back British Farming campaign this is a priority for the NFU all year round, but we stepped up our efforts as new PCCs (Police and Crime Commissioners) came into power.  

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 the new commissioners. 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.  


  • Nearly 50,000 people signed a letter to Police and Crime Commissioners, calling on them to make rural crime a priority.  

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 will be considered by the Defra-commissioned team that are researching the harms caused by sky lanterns.
  • 17 leading farming, environment, animal and fire organisations signed a letter sent to Environment Minister Rebecca Pow in April 2021, calling for stronger legislation to ban sky lanterns nationally.   
  • To date, 187 councils have already banned sky lanterns thanks for our campaign work since 2013.  

Dog attacks  

  • Virginia Crosbie (MP for Ynys Môn) showed great support for this issue, and tabled a Bill in Parliament in July 2021 which seeks to introduce changes to legislation to help tackle livestock worrying. 
  • The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals Bill) was introduced in Parliament in the Autumn of 2021. This Bill would give more power to the police to tackle livestock worrying incidents. It is currently awaiting its Report stage with no timescales on when progress will be made. 
  • 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. 


  • We launched the Lock it or Lose it initiative to help members identify simple preventative measures to reduce the chance of becoming a victim of rural theft. 

This page was first published on 09 November 2021. It was updated on 08 February 2023.

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