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Good news for rural communities as NFU Mutual release rural claims figures

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Figures released this week by NFU Mutual show that the cost of rural claims are down in the South West.

According to a NFU Mutual survey, the national cost of rural crime totalled £37.8 million in 2014 – a 15% reduction on 2013 figures. The South West saw a reduction from £5.5 million to approximately £5 million and in Somerset specifically the estimated cost is £1,100,000 – again a reduction on 2013 figures.

Superintendent Geoff Wessell, Rural Crime Lead for Avon and Somerset Police, said: “We are delighted to see that the NFU figures show a reduction in rural claims this year. We have been working hard with our partners agencies, neighbouring Constabularies and the rural and farming communities to reduce crime and it is very encouraging to see positive results.”

Tackling rural crime is important to Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and she is supportive of the Constabulary’s new approach. Over the past 18 months the Constabulary have formed a new Rural Crime Police Team and most recently facilitated the creation of an independently chaired multi-agency Rural Crime Forum - both of which are proving to be very effective in identifying and tackling rural issues.

The Constabulary have also invested in new and specific rural crime training both for front line officers and communications staff. This training has allowed staff a better understanding of the impact of rural crime and has meant it has been dealt with more effectively at the first point of contact. In conjunction with a relatively new rural crime tag, we are also now able to more accurately record this type of crime and respond accordingly.

Supt’ Wessell added: “Whilst there has been a reduction in rural claims, we won’t be complacent. Thieves are still targeting particular items including tools, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) such as quad-bikes, machinery and most recently livestock and we are running on-going and specialist rural crime operations to tackle these specific issues.

“We are also alive to the fact that rural crime is ever changing – there are seasonal crime trends, and like other industries and areas, there also new crimes that occur with the development of new technology such as the loss of solar panels.

“That said there are lots of positive new developments in crime prevention equipment including initiatives aimed at reducing livestock theft and tracking equipment for agricultural vehicles. These are having a positive impact and we are seeing success in both prevention and detection.”

The Rural Crime Team is continuing to actively promote various “watch schemes” and over the past year have doubled membership to Farm Watch Scheme. Thanks to the quick response of people within the scheme, who are swiftly identifying stolen property, we have been able to reunite many items with the rightful owners.

If you would like further advice or more information about joining a watch scheme, please visit www.avonandsomerset.police.uk. You can follow our Rural Crime Team on Twitter @ASPRuralCrime.

Posted on Thursday 6th August 2015
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