Working together to tackle rural crime in Surrey

21 March 2024

A police officer talking to a farmer, with their backs to camera

The NFU has welcomed Surrey Police’s pledge to crackdown on rural crime but said farmers and growers need to see results.

Surrey Police pledged to visit every NFU member in the county as part of its efforts to tackle rural crime earlier this month.

The NFU welcomes this pledge and is calling on the force to work with its members to set clear rural crime priorities and objectives to help deliver positive short and long-term results for people in the county.

Surrey farmers have been victims of numerous serious rural crime incidents in recent months including suspected arson attacks on barns, thefts, attacks on sheep and fly-tipping.

Fly tipping near Wolverhampton

Such incidents, which have been happening for years, are costing individual farm businesses thousands of pounds, causing severe animal suffering, blighting the countryside, costing tax-payers money and impacting on farmers’ ability to feed the nation.

There are concerns that this is part of an ongoing rise in rural crime.

The NFU has held meetings with Surrey Police with the aim of working together to give farmers greater protection.

Farmers need better protection

NFU County Adviser for Surrey Harriet Henrick said: “We welcome Surrey Police’s pledge to work with us, but we need to see action.

“Rural crime incidents in Surrey have been escalating and farmers in Surrey have become victims to some serious crimes. They need better protection.

“We want to work with the police to set clear objectives and targets for tackling rural crime and helping the rural community with anti-theft technology to support the police.

“We need better engagement and reporting from both the police and the rural community, so this is a positive step.

“Our members need reassurance that when crimes are reported they will be taken seriously and investigated and will be given support and advice on what they can do to prevent such crimes from happening in the future."

The NFU Mutual 2023 Rural Crime Report estimates rural crime cost the UK £49.5 million in 2022, up 22.1% on the previous year.

In South East England, the rural crime cost is estimated to be £9.3 million in 2022, an increase of 24.1% on 2021.

The rural insurer has also just released figures showing that farm animals worth an estimated £2.4 million were severely injured or killed by dogs last year, up nearly 30% compared to 2022.

Inspector Darren Benge said: “We’ve undertaken a significant amount of activity to target and disrupt wildlife, environmental, heritage and agricultural crimes. Even still, we know that rural crime is underreported in the county, leaving many people feeling unsafe in their own homes. No one should be made to feel this way.

“Rural crime incidents in Surrey have been escalating and farmers in Surrey have become victims to some serious crimes. They need better protection."

County Adviser Harriet Henrick


“Rural crimes are defined as offences that relate to farms, agriculture, wildlife, the environment, and heritage sites, where they are a target due to their isolation or rural location.

“By working together collaboratively with our neighbouring forces and rural communities, I am confident that we can address the issues and offenders that we all have in common and find solutions that will make the South East a safer place for our rural community to live and work.”

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.

Read more on NFUonline

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.