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Shutting the gate on rural crime

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As part of Rural Crime Week of Action, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens visited farming communities to hear how rural crime affects them.

The PCC and Avon and Somerset officers visited the current chair of the Avon and Somerset Rural Crime Forum James Small at his property Warren Farm. Following this, the PCC met with Jim Hardcastle and the team from Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Unit. The proactive team work hard alongside the police to ensure that people visiting the area are safe from crime.

During her visit, they also discussed crime prevention, the need to reassure rural communities, intimidation and how technology can be used to disrupt criminal activity.

PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “For residents in more rural areas, their farm is both their home and business. Fly tipping, poaching and theft have a significant impact on their livelihoods and personal lives.

“I was delighted to meet with both James and the Mendip Hills AONB Unit and hear their concerns about the crimes that affect rural communities. I would urge those who live in rural communities to join Farm Watch, Horse Watch or Neighbourhood Watch schemes; by using your knowledge and awareness of what is happening on and around your land, you can help the Constabulary to deter criminals.”

Police Sergeant Andy Murphy added: “Farms and open rural spaces offer opportunities for criminals. We must reduce these opportunities and work with local residents to prevent such crimes from happening in the first place. Rural crime matters. It has a huge victim impact, the cost of machinery is vast as well as the disruption to farming.

“We also need the help of those visiting rural locations. Post office workers, delivery drivers and healthcare professionals are likely to be the ones who might see and hear unusual behaviour in the rural communities they visit. We’re asking the public to act as our eyes and ears and report anything suspicious to us on 101 or if a crime is in progress by calling 999.”

Jim Hardcastle, Mendip Hills AONB Manager, said: “The Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a special place for farmers, residents and visitors but unfortunately it attracts different types of rural crime.

“We really appreciate this week’s focus on rural crime from Avon and Somerset Police. We work closely with the local PCSOs and Beat Managers to share intelligence and look forward to other opportunities including specialist training that will protect the livelihoods of land managers and means visitors have a great time here.”

For more information about crime prevention advice and Watch schemes, visit: https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/advice/crime-prevention-advice/ and https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/services/watch-community-schemes/farm-watch/

Posted on Friday 11th October 2019
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