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Suffolk bucks the trend in the East as UK Rural Crime is up 12%

August 8, 2019 12:00 PM

Rural Crime has hit a seven-year high, costing the UK £50m in 2018

In its annual study of offences against farmers and rural businesses, the insurer NFU Mutual found rural crime in 2018 was up 12% on the previous year.

The report showed that Lincolnshire and Essex are among the three UK counties worst affected by rural crime. Essex suffered the most agri-vehicle theft in the country, and Norfolk saw a 99.5% increase in the cost of crime. * File:Spreader AF.jpg * Created: 20 August 2007 (CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication Ryanicus Girraficus)

NFU Mutual found rural crime cost Suffolk almost £1.119m in 2018 and whilst the Eastern region showed a marked increase in crime costing the Region £6.9m, Essex being especially hard hit with a 40% increase; Suffolk did show a decrease on 2017 of around 10% bucking the national and regional trend. Incidences of crime are not restricted to theft of agricultural and farm machinery, Suffolk churches have been particularly hard hit over the past five years with lead being removed and damage to the fabric and interiors of many local heritage buildings.

Following the publication of a report showing that rural crime has hit a seven-year high, Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

"These figures only confirm what people in rural areas have known for a long time. As government gets ever more centralised our country areas are increasingly left behind. Successive policing ministers may have forgotten the countryside but It is clear that the criminals have not. A visible presence from police that understand the needs of rural communities now has to be a priority."

The report, issued by NFU mutual, showed that farms and isolated rural areas were especially at risk.

LGA Liberal Democrat Councillor Sarah Osborne and a member of the LGA Liberal Democrat 'People and Places' team which covers rural issues said:

"Once again it shows how the Conservatives assume they speak for rural areas but sit back and do very little for them. Their record speaks for itself. The Tories have taken 5,000 police off the beat since 2015, with rural areas bearing much of the brunt of this."

Laura Bell from NFU Mutual said:
'At NFU Mutual, we support a number of local initiatives that help bring together farmers and rural communities to fight rural crime'.

The insurer said farmers and country people were having to deal with "repeated thefts by gangs who take advantage of farms' isolated locations to steal machinery, raid tool stores and even butcher sheep in the fields"

Tim Price, a rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, was quoted by the Guardian* on 5th August saying that the last time rural theft reached such levels was in 2011 when international gangs "took advantage of a largely unsecured countryside'.

The report says the sharp rise was driven mainly by the theft of tractors, quad bikes and other farm vehicles, which was up 26% in 2018. The cost of agricultural vehicle theft claims to NFU Mutual rose by 26% to £7.4m in 2018.

Quad bike and other vehicle theft claims rose from £2.3m in 2017 to £2.6m in 2018. Claims for stolen livestock increased from £2.4m to £2.5m. CountrysideStewardship Defra

SOURCE: ALDC / LGA:

*.@fperraudin Guardian 5th Aug 19

END