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Is a higher police presence required in our rural towns and villages?

January 30, 2021 7:40 PM
By Gary MacDonnell

Yes, rural crime is on the increase. A recent report showed that rural crime has hit a seven-year high, costing the UK £50m in 2018 and up 12% on the previous year.

These figures only confirm what people in rural areas have known and been reporting for a long time. As government gets ever more centralised our rural areas are increasingly left behind. Successive policing ministers seen to have forgotten that the countryside is our most vulnerable area. A visible presence from police in rural communities now must be a priority as a proven way of reducing crime.

There are different models but 'bobbies on the beat,' visible policing is a preventative and proactive role that can be focused on emergency response as they will be the closest people to the incident. Similarly, police are central to communities, closely cooperating with other public services to keep communities safe.

The National Rural Crime Network produced a number of recommendations including reviewing the funding formula used so that the costs of policing in rural areas is recognised; finding ways of encouraging rural communities to report incidents to the police; the police and partners needing to work better together to tackle rural crime; policing to be better targeted in rural areas to take account of vulnerable victims; improve knowledge and embed best practice of tackling crimes in rural areas; and that prevention and response policies are needed that focus on improving protection for rural businesses.

The Conservatives have taken 5,000 police off the beat since 2015, with rural areas bearing much of the brunt of this. The Liberal Democrats call for our Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and the government to fully reverse the cuts to our police and ensure our rural areas are supported in the fight against crime.

Cllr Barry Aspinell and Gary MacDonnell (Karen Chilvers)

Cllr Barry Aspinell and Gary MacDonnell (in 2019)

Gary MacDonnell is Chair of Brentwood Liberal Democrats and our candidate for the 2021 Borough Council election for Shenfield Ward. You can contact him at gary.macdonnell@brentwoodlibdems.org.uk