Rural crime up in Suffolk but new strategy aims to turn heat on criminals

Tim Passmore linked up with the NFU to launch a strategy to fight rural crime earlier this year . Le

Tim Passmore linked up with the NFU to launch a strategy to fight rural crime earlier this year . Left to right, Edward Vere Nichol from the CLA, Rachel Kearton (Assistant Chief Constable), Tim Passmore (Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner) and Rachel Carrington from the NFU. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

The cost of rural crime in Suffolk increased slightly last year according to the country’s main insurer for rural businesses – despite a national drop in the value of claims.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said the new figures from NFU Mutual showed the importance of focussing on dealing with rural crime – ranging from the theft of machinery and high-value vehicles to stealing domestic fuel oil or organising illegal hare-coursing events.

Earlier this year he linked up with the NFU and Country Land and Business Association to tackle the issue.

The report showed that the cost of rural crime costs in Suffolk last year was £980,000 – up 6% on 2015. Across the East of England there was a 3.7% rise to £5.6m. However across the UK the figure fell by 4.3% to £39.2m.

Essex saw one of the largest increases in the country – up from £1.25m to £1.8m in value.

David Blackwell, from NFU Mutual in Bury St Edmunds, said: “Rural crime in Suffolk has been on the rise during the last 12 months, as countryside criminals are becoming more brazen and farmers are now having to continually increase security and adopt new ways of protecting their equipment.

“In some parts of the county, farmers are having to turn their farmyards into fortresses to protect themselves from repeated thieves who are targeting quads, tractors and power tools.”

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Mr Passmore said the increase, about £55,000, could be accounted for by one or two pieces of machinery or 4x4 vehicles being stolen – but it did show the importance of keeping a focus on rural crime.

He said: “I welcome the NFU report it because it shines a light on the problems that are facing rural communities. We have teams working on this kind of crime and we have the new volunteer horserider teams who support the police by keeping an eye on their part of Suffolk and providing information to try to prevent crime before it happens.”

Mr Passmore said it was important to get the message out to criminals that rural parts of Suffolk were not an “easy touch.”

He said: “If the criminals know that there are people in every community watching them if they are acting suspiciously and reporting those suspicions to the police then they should think twice about coming to Suffolk.”