New campaign to tackle rural crime in Essex launched by Crimestoppers

Suffolk police want help to trace a man they want to identify. Picture: ARCHANT

Suffolk police want help to trace a man they want to identify. Picture: ARCHANT

A new campaign to fight rural crime has been launched across Essex with a focus on raising awareness of the damaging effect it can have on countryside communities.

Independent charity Crimestoppers is asking people to speak up about countryside crime in Essex – where nearly one third of all reported crime is classed as rural.

Serious and organised crime groups are often linked to rural, heritage and wildlife crime - such as hare coursing and cannabis cultivation.

Crimes against property, violence, domestic violence, child abuse, trafficking and hate crimes also all take place in countryside communities.

Information given to Crimestoppers led to more than 300 people arrested and charged in Essex between April and September last year and numbers continue to increase, according to the charity.

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The rural crime campaign will be promoted in three stages through social media, leaflets and posters distributed to a number of partner organisations, and village magazines.

Stuart Rawlins, chairman of Crimestoppers in Essex, said: “Rural crime not only has a significant effect on the farming community and those who live and work in the countryside, it also impacts on those in towns and cities.

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“Our aim is to keep the countryside safer for all of us by getting that message across using social media, leaflets and other tools.

“In countryside communities, people tend to know who’s who and they may have information about crime which could be important. It could also mean they won’t want to tell police because they fear reprisals.

“Crimestoppers can give them reassure thanks to our guarantee of anonymity.”

Wendy Schmitt, cabinet member for community safety at Braintree District Council, said: “The Braintree district is a mainly rural community so we are keen to support this campaign and work with our partners to ensure we protect our residents and make our communities safer.”

News of the campaign comes as the Country, Land and Business Association (CLA) announced that it is launching a new plan to tackle hare coursing.

The CLA says the introduction of specific sentencing guidelines for hare coursing is needed to fight the crime.

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