A shock report reveals the national bill for crime in rural areas like South Holland could top £800million.
The figure revealed by The National Rural Crime Network (TNRCN) is 21 times higher than previous estimates and works out at £200 for every single countryside home in England and Wales.
If people are not bothering to report crime then they have no right to say the police did nothing about it. If the police don’t know about it, how can they do something about it?Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick
Published on Tuesday, the TNRCN report – based on a survey of more than 17,000 people – also reveals:
• Fear of crime is increasing among people living in the countryside – 39 per cent of rural people are “very or fairly worried” about becoming a victim of crime compared to 19 per cent nationally
• People in the countryside are far less satisfied with police performance compared to those who live in towns and cities – only 39 per cent of countryside dwellers rate police performance as good or excellent while nationally it’s 63 per cent
• Crime is under-reported in rural areas – more than one in four (27 per cent) did not report the last crime of which they were a victim
Under-reporting of crimes, according to the TNCRN, could mean Home Office figures of 294,000 rural crimes between April 2014 and May 2015 are wrong with the actual number as high as 403,000.
TNCRN is a coalition of police and crime commissioners, including Lincolnshire’s Alan Hardwick, rural stakeholders and national crime prevention charities.
Mr Hardwick and chief constable Neil Rhodes are at the forefront of a campaign to win a fairer funding deal for Lincolnshire Police and the top recommendation from the TNRCN is “fair funding for rural policing”, music to their ears.
The two men have already had talks with the Government and Mr Hardwick said this week he is cautiously optimistic that Lincolnshire Police will get an improved settlement in a pre-Christmas announcement – partly because he believes there is a genuine wish from the Government to be fairer to Lincolnshire and partly because the county’s MPs and district and county councils are supporting the step.
Elsewhere, he says, other forces are predicting cutbacks and potential losses of officers.#
Speaking of the upcoming Government funding deal for Lincolnshire, Mr Hardwick said: “I am cautiously optimistic and I am not shroud waving and I am not predicting dire consequences unlike some other forces. I do believe the Government want a fairer deal (for Lincolnshire).”
TNRCN speaks of a “vicious circle of low expectations” that leads to “chronic under-reporting” of crime in rural areas along with “anger, frustration and worry”.
It says rural communities – residents and business bosses alike – are more fearful of becoming victims of crimes than they were five years ago.
TNRCN chairman Julia Mulligan, also Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said low satisfaction rates regarding police performance need to be a “wake-up call for police forces in rural areas”.
Mr Hardwick says the satisfaction measure is a national indicator and he believes the Lincolnshire Police relationship with rural communities and particularly farmers is a good one.
He is surprised at the scale of crime that goes unreported – and says everyone, whether they live in the countryside or urban areas, should call the police if they are a victim of crime.
“I have heard this before, ‘oh well, we didn’t bother to report it because all we get is an insurance number’, but that’s not helping the policing of the county,” he said. “Crime must be reported. If people are not bothering to report crime then they have no right to say the police did nothing about it. If the police don’t know about it, how can they do something about it?”
• Senior figures from TNRCN presented their findings to the All Parliamentary Group on Rural Services in Westminster on Tuesday.