Make rural crime a priority: NFU's open letter to PCCs

Police car

The NFU is campaigning to put rural crime high on the priority list of the newly elected police and crime commissioners.

Police and crime commissioners are elected to make sure that the local police in their area are meeting the needs of the community. Yet too often, rural communities fail to feel adequately protected against criminals and organised crime gangs.

Theft of large and small machinery, fly-tipping, dog attacks on livestock and hare coursing continue to blight farming communities.

As a result, rural crime cost the UK £49.5m in 2022. However, the full scale cost and social impact of crime in rural areas is underestimated, under-reported and not fully understood.

The recent PCC elections offered a timely opportunity to shine a light on these issues and reflect on ways in which police forces combat rural crime.

The NFU will send an open letter to every single elected Police and Crime Commissioner, calling on them to prioritise rural crime.

As a result of our campaigning work, 19,060 people added their signatures to our letter. Thank you to everyone who added their signature.

NFU Vice President Rachel Hallos said: “In recent years, rural communities across Britain have been dealing with highly organised criminal gangs targeting the countryside to steal livestock, valuable machinery or expensive GPS equipment.

“To tackle rural crime effectively, we are asking PCCs to ensure priorities for addressing rural crime are detailed in their Police and Crime Plan and to recruit a dedicated rural crime specialist.

“I urge all police and commissioners to meet with local farmers to understand the impact of these crimes first-hand and commit to tangible plans to better help combat rural crime.”

Open letter to PCCs

Survey work carried out for the NFU by More in Common in October 2023 showed that 71% of the public believe rural crime should be treated more seriously by the police. That’s why the NFU will send an open letter to every single elected PPC, calling on them to:

  • Ensure priorities for addressing rural crime are detailed in their police and crime plan.
  • Recruit a dedicated rural crime specialist.
  • Engage regularly with the farming community.
  • Deliver effective response and investigation of crimes impacting farm businesses.
  • Work with farm businesses on effective crime prevention strategies.
  • Develop a strategy to counter the impact of organised crime groups operating in rural areas.
  • Provide greater rural crime training for officers and control centres.

Next steps

The NFU is inviting all newly elected Police & Crime Commissioners to meet local farmers to hear first-hand the impact of criminal activity on farming businesses and discuss steps to help combat this threat.

Download our PCC election flyer.

Tackling rural crime nationally

Alongside making rural crime a priority at a local level, the NFU continues to campaign for a consistent and coordinated response to rural crime across government and police forces.

With 80% of NFU Mutual Agents reporting that rural crime is disrupting farming activity, it is clear that the government’s police funding formula simply does not reflect the costs of policing rural areas.

The NFU’s ‘Farming for Britain’s Future’ general election manifesto calls on the next government to deliver fair funding for rural policing, a dedicated rural crime team in every police force in the country and the formation of a cross-departmental rural crime task force to address failures in dealing with rural crime.

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.

This page was first published on 09 April 2024. It was updated on 17 May 2024.

Ask us a question about this page

Once you have submitted your query someone from NFU CallFirst will contact you. If needed, your query will then be passed to the appropriate NFU policy team.

You have 0 characters remaining.

By completing the form with your details on this page, you are agreeing to have this information sent to the NFU for the purposes of contacting you regarding your enquiry. Please take time to read the NFU’s Privacy Policy if you require further information.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.