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New countryside crime report published

Early this month, a new countryside crime report was published by NFU Mutual, stating the cost of rural crime in the Southwest in 2021 was 18% less than the previous year. However, NFU Mutual also reported that rural crime pay-outs between January and March 2022 were over 40% higher than in 2021.

I want to take this opportunity to reassure Dorset’s rural communities that I am working hard to ensure that robust action is taken to tackle rural crime in our county.

I have shared before that there has been a 400% increase in resources dedicated to rural crime, including an uplift in the number of officers in the Rural Crime Team. This increase in resources and capacity has extended the police’s reach and capability to fight rural crime.

One of the ambitions within my Police and Crime plan was for Rural Crime Team to have closer links with neighbourhood policing and their resources to be even more visible and effective. Back in the new rural crime engagement van was launched which will help to further the work towards this goal by allowing the team to reach more remote areas and rural communities, ensuring that there is better connection and communication between the police and the communities they serve.

On top of this, my office worked with the Rural Crime team to develop a series of rural podcasts, providing funding so that the team could highlight a range of topics, including awareness of wildlife crime issues and associated prevention advice. The podcast was hugely successful, making it into the top ten.

In early 2022, The Rural Crime Reduction Board (RCRB) was implemented, with an aim to make Dorset the safest county and lead the way in preventing and reducing rural crime. The RCRB gives partner agencies such as Dorset Council, Dorset Police, and The Environment Agency, amongst others, to work together, and share knowledge and best practice to better support Dorset’s rural communities.

Since April 2022 the RCRB has been meeting quarterly to deliver on the four themes of Priority 4 of my Police and Crime Plan - to Fight Rural Crime, through the Board’s Action Plan. These themes are Country Watch, Fly-tipping, Rural Resources and Wildlife Crime.

So far, work has included setting up training for police officers by specialist organisations on rural crime issues, working with neighbouring police forces and partner agencies to catch offenders of wildlife crime, and the set up of three initial multi-agency ‘task and finish' groups to focus on:

  • Engaging with rural communities through Watch groups
  • Fly-tipping prevention through both awareness raising, and enforcement
  • Rural crime prevention through better communication and engagement work with rural communities

Finally, later this summer my office will be launching Country Watch, to represent the work of the RCRB partners works in tackling rural crime in Dorset. The Country Watch website will work as a resource to help rural residents find proactive advice and support if they are a victim of crime and information on reporting crimes – so please do keep an eye out for Country Watch in the next few weeks.


David Sidwick

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner

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