Countryside must not become a ‘soft target’, NFU tells police chiefs

NFU President Minette Batters will urge Chief Constables to ensure farms and rural communities do not become a ‘soft target’ for criminals, in an address to the National Police Chiefs Council.

Batters will tell a meeting of all the Chief Constables in the country that a consistent and coordinated approach to rural crime is needed to tackle this issue.

Laid out initially in its Combatting Rural Crime report published last year, the NFU continues to urge all police forces to have a dedicated rural police team in order to ensure the countryside is properly policed.

Batters said: “All manner of rural crimes, whether it is hare-coursing, fly-tipping or theft, severely impact farm businesses and rural communities. Not only does it have economic consequences but these criminals also bring threats, violence and intimidation to the countryside.

“It is crucial that there is a joined-up approach to tackle this issue and that is why the NFU is the leading farming organisation representing its members in the fight against rural crime.

“Engaging with police chiefs, in particular through the National Wildlife Crime Unit, is a prime example of this work and making those at the front line aware of the real cost of crime to farm businesses is essential.

“It has been almost a year since the NFU released its Combatting Rural Crime report and laid out its asks of government, and we have yet to see any concrete action being taken. It is absolutely vital that this changes to protect our countryside from being a soft target for criminals.

“A cross-departmental task force would be a step in the right direction to show that all aspects of government are taking this issue extremely seriously.”

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