Rural and heritage crime are a key focus in Making Wiltshire Safer crime plan
Targeting rural crime and bolstering Wiltshire Police’s capability to improve its response to both rural and heritage crime is a key priority for me.
Listening to farming and rural residents throughout my time in office and looking at the results from my Use Your Voice survey and consultation, it was clear to me that many had lost confidence in the policing service they receive. Anecdotally our farmers and rural residents didn’t trust they were getting the policing service they deserve and as a consequence rarely reported crimes to the police when they did occur.
Since taking up the PCC role, I’m ever mindful that Wiltshire Police needs to serve all its residents and consistently target those high-harm and threat crimes alongside those crimes which really matter to local communities and impact upon people’s daily lives. And this includes our rural communities.
That is why I have pledged to double the numbers of police officers within the rural crime team during this financial year, as well as investing in the team’s intelligence function, equipment and vehicles. This also includes the procurement of technologically-advanced drones to improve the team’s capability to tackle crime that is impacting negatively on our rural communities, such as hare coursing, agricultural thefts and criminal damage.
I am looking forward to working with the farming community, the National Farmers Union and other partners to really increase the confidence of our rural communities in their policing service.
It is, of course, widely known that in times of recession, farmers, their land, fuel and resources become targets for all sorts of criminals.
The Financial Conduct Authority’s 2021 ‘Rural Lives Study’ suggests that people living in rural areas are more financially vulnerable and this is not only due to fuel poverty but also due to higher transport costs as a result of travelling further to access services.
Before the sting of the current increases to costs of living really starts to bite, and our rural residents may become victims of crime, I’d like our farming community to really look at ensuring they have explored all options to secure their properties and resources.
Consider how you can stop intruders getting easy access to the fuel you store. Install stronger fencing and gates to protect the fuel tanks; also, fit stronger padlocks on access gates, the fuel tank lids and fuel dispensing pumps.