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Fighting Rural Crime in Dorset

It has always been abundantly clear to me that Dorset is home to immensely proud rural communities, and I have always been a strong believer that more could be done to support Dorset’s rural residents. Therefore, over the next month, I want to focus on the Fight Rural Crime priority of my Police and Crime Plan and tell you a bit more about all the work that has been happening to tackle Rural Crime here in Dorset.

Since I took office in 2021, we have come a long way in fighting rural crime. The Rural Crime Team, which was just three dedicated officers, now has the capacity to have 18 members and in addition, there are now 18 trained wildlife officers throughout the force. The force is also currently recruiting mounted volunteers, members of the public on horseback who will act as the eyes and ears of the force in rural areas and help to improve public intelligence. With these new resources Dorset police are having great success, the Rural Crime Team have helped return over £1 million worth of stolen machinery to victims of crime over the last year. This has been recognised with the NFU Mutual annual report showing a 28% drop in the cost of crime for Dorset compared to an increase of 22.1% nationally.

But the fight against rural crime needs to go beyond enforcement alone. There were systematic changes that needed to be made to ensure that the police and law enforcement were better equipped to support rural residents. That’s why over the last two years I have continuously lobbied for changes that would help in the fight against rural crime.

Earlier this year, I joined with my fellow PCCs in calling for tougher sanctions to tackle the 'growing menace' of fly-tipping which resulted in the minimum fine for the offence being raised from £400 to £1000. The lobbying also achieved changes to make it easier for Dorset Police to seize vehicles involved in fly-tipping. Early on in my term, I also supported the National Farmers Union in campaigning for tougher legislation that would enhance police powers in order to deter and prevent illegal hare coursing. This campaigning again resulted in a change in the law.

These campaigns are just two examples of the importance of partnership working when it comes to fighting rural crime. This is something I have tried to foster through the Dorset Partnership Against Rural Crime, which was set up in 2022 and brings together 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.

Through the partnership, my office has launched the Country Watch website, which works as a resource to help rural residents find proactive advice and support if they are a victim of crime and information on reporting crimes.

In the coming weeks, I will be joining the Rural Crime Team as they work to target those who commit crime in our rural areas, giving you an insight into the partnership working that is helping to tackle rural crime in Dorset. I will also be sharing interviews directly from some of Dorset’s Farmers about how crime’s such as poaching have impacted their lives and how the public can play a part as we continue to fight rural crime and strive to make Dorset the safest county.


David Sidwick

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner


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