The National Rural Crime Network’s (NRCN) first annual Rural Crime Conference took place this week. It sought to address some of the key crime issues facing rural communities. The central message from all of the speakers was that rural crime was serious and organised, but we must work together to tackle rural crime and keep rural communities safe. The Chairman of the NRCN, Tim Passmore, Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk, introduced the event by pointing out that no one person or organisation can tackle the challenges of rural crime alone, and the NRCN will continue to work with their existing partners and reach out to new ones to strengthen their work.
The day commenced with a message from the Environment Secretary, Therese Coffey, who stated that police services must be accessible to all, no matter where you live. The main focus of her message was that organised crime is real in rural communities and penetrating. This message was followed up by Rob Taylor from the Rural and Wildlife Crime Police Liaison unit in Wales, which is at the forefront in tackling crime and sharing best practice. Mr Taylor said that this approach can only be effective if police forces have a dedicated Rural Crime Team with a strong presence in those communities. He went on to say that the bridges between farming communities and the police were crumbling in Wales before this unit was launched and it’s success only speaks to the power behind such dedicated teams.
The conference was then addressed by Superintendent Andy Huddleston, head of the new National Rural Crime Unit, who said that rural crime has been less of a priority for policing in the past and that investment has always been elsewhere and this is going to change with the National Rural Crime Unit.