Have your say on rural crime in Essex - are police doing enough to tackle the £800m problems?

The survey seeks views on rural crimes such as hare coursing. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The survey seeks views on rural crimes such as hare coursing. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Rural residents in Essex are being asked for their views on the extent of crime and anti-social behaviour in their communities.

Essex Police has launched the survey to gauge the success of its work since the last National Rural Crime Survey in 2015 revealed the true costs of such offences totalled around £800million a year.

The survey highlighted “chronic under-reporting, anger and frustration at the police and government.”

Following the survey’s recommendations, Essex Police became one of the few forces in the country to introduce a dedicated rural team.

Essex Police along with partners also launched the Rural Crime Strategy in 2017.

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Now the force is seeking views on whether the rural crime picture has changed.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Do you think rural crime has gone up or down in Essex? Do you feel safer?

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“What’s your view of the police in your community?

“In short, we want to know the true picture of crime and anti-social behaviour in rural communities across Essex – and the impact it has where you live or work.”

Questions cover a range of issues – from whether people report crimes to the impact crime and anti-social behaviour has on communities and whether people believe enough is done to catch offenders.

“It’s all about making sure the voice of rural communities is heard by those who can make a difference to where we live and work – from the Police to Government,” the spokesman added.

Jane Gardner, deputy police, fire and crime commissioner for Essex, said: “Tackling rural crime is a key priority within our Police and Crime Plan.

“We know that rural communities are often isolated and at risks of specific types of crime such as hare coursing, theft, burglary or fly-tipping.

“In Essex we are fortunate to have active and engaged rural communities who work with us and alongside Essex Police to report and help prevent crime.

“Together, we have been working to get better visibility of crime in rural communities, to understand what is important to local people and agree how we will tackle this together.”

The survey last took place in 2015 when 13,000 people give their impressions of crime and anti-social behaviour, revealing the financial cost of rural crime was significant – around £800 million every year.

One of this year’s focuses is whether rural crime continues to be underreported.

Three years ago, one in four said they didn’t report the last crime they’d been a victim of because they didn’t see the point.

Chief Inspector Ian Gennery, of Essex Police’s Gypsy, traveller and rural engagement team, said: “Since the introduction of the Gypsy traveller and rural Engagement team we have seen a significant increase in the number and scope of proactive preventative police operations across Essex.

“These bring together rural communities, local policing teams and specialist officers to crack down on rural crime. This survey is a great way to get further engagement from the rural community and identify areas for us to focus on in the future.’

The survey is being organised by the National Rural Crime Network, which brings together police and crime commissioners, police forces and organisations working in rural communities – such as the Country Land and Business Association, the National Farmers Union, Neighbourhood Watch, Crimestoppers, Historic England and the Countryside Alliance.

Network chairman Julia Mulligan said: “The aim of the National Rural Crime Network is to see greater recognition and understanding of the problems and impact of crime in rural communities so more can be done to help them be safe – and feel safe. In order to achieve that, we need to know the true picture of crime and anti-social behaviour that residents and businesses face.

“The 2015 findings uncovered some difficult truths for all those involved in protecting rural areas and now is the right time to see whether lessons have been learnt, whether people are more willing to report the crime they are victims of and if they do indeed feel safer.”

The 2018 Survey will assess the impact of changes brought about by police forces following the last study.

The survey is now available at www.nationalruralcrimenetwork.net and is open for submissions until Sunday, June 10.

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