Dorset PCC Response to NRCN Survey Findings
For the last few months I have been encouraging residents in rural areas of Dorset to have their say on crime and policing by taking part in the National Rural Crime Network Survey – the largest rural crime survey ever conducted in this country.
It was an ambitious project which was successful in its aim to engage with rural communities across the country to identify the full impact of crime in rural areas. I know hundreds of residents across Dorset contributed to this survey and I applaud their involvement as it is too important a survey to ignore.
As an advocate for tackling rural crime, I welcome the findings which will give us a more in-depth platform to analyse the effect of crime in rural areas. This will help to shape the future of crime prevention and rural policing in order to make rural communities safer in Dorset.
I am concerned but not surprised to learn of the financial impact of crime on rural households and businesses. I have met many business owners and residents in my time as PCC who have seen their livelihoods destroyed due to the severe impact of crime. I have met others who fear the same happening to them, so I can understand how the fear of crime is high in rural communities. Added to this is the ongoing concern and widespread news coverage of funding cuts, which has impacted on resources and staffing. Therefore, I am not surprised that 32% of respondents are more fearful of becoming victims of crime than five years ago, compared to 3% who are less fearful.
The question now is what are we doing to address the fear of crime and satisfaction levels which are detailed in the report? Well, the landscape is clearer due to this rich pool of data which we can now draw from and use. We have launched the biggest Engagement project ever in Dorset Police’s history, where we will be consulting with all communities over the next few months on key areas, such as neighbourhood policing and protecting communities from risk and harm. We now publish a rural crime newsletter to keep communities updated on the policing of rural areas and have invested in off terrain police vehicles to patrol rural areas. Our work with rural communities will always be a priority and that is reflected in our new rural crime strategy.
Rural communities have been given a voice through this survey and it is time for the Government and agencies across the country to take note, listen and to tap into the rich resource that is already there. As the report has recognised, community spirit is strong in rural areas. There are many watch schemes already in existence which are working in partnership with the police to keep rural areas safe. We need to continue to work closer together in order to build on this strong foundation.
I would urge all Forces across the country to adopt the NCRN’s seven recommendations including fair funding for rural areas; more joined-up working with partners and communities, building on rural resilience; embedding best practice; developing new policies and ways of working; and ensuring a more targeted approach within rural communities.
But let’s be clear, the biggest challenge for rural policing is very real. And that is the ability for the Force to maintain rural policing against a backdrop of massive austerity.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner