Claims to NFU Mutual for rural crime tops £1million in Hertfordshire
NFU Mutual's 2020 Rural Crime Report was released this week
In its 2020 Rural Crime Report, published on Tuesday, leading rural insurer NFU Mutual revealed that rural crime cost Hertfordshire over £1million last year.
There was a rise of 24.5 per cent in claims to the rural insurer, compared to 2018.
Across the UK, rural crime cost £54m in 2019, an increase of almost 9 per cent on the previous year.
Hertfordshire Police has a specialist team that focuses solely on rural and agricultural issues, wildlife crime and heritage crime.
A spokesperson for Hertfordshire Constabulary said: “Understanding rural issues and supporting those who live in remote areas is taken seriously by the constabulary.
"Locally based teams regularly patrol these parts of the county and hold well-attended engagement events, such as barn meets, to help build relationships with the rural and farming communities and share the latest crime prevention advice.
“Alongside this, our specialist Rural Operational Support Team (ROST) focuses solely on rural and agricultural issues, wildlife crime and heritage crime.
"This team has recently been expanded to provide further support to local safer neighbourhood teams and response officers policing these areas.
"They also provide training on rural matters for new police recruits and regularly host two-day awareness courses for any colleagues looking to improve their knowledge, so that they are better placed to support victims and, ultimately, help prevent rural crime.
“Partnership working is key and we are continuing to build on our strong links with agencies such as the National Famers’ Union and the Country Land and Business Association.
“If you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to report them to police.
"You can also use our community voice platform ‘echo’ to let us know what you think we should be prioritising in your area. Your feedback will help towards shaping our local policing priorities, initiatives and campaigns. Visit bit.ly/herts-echo and tell us your thoughts.”
While there have been some reductions in crime under lockdown, there are concerns that rural theft is set to escalate as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic bites.
Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Rural crime is like a wave as organised criminality spreads through our villages, farms and rural towns, affecting everyone in the countryside.
"We continue to work hard to stem the tide and are warning rural communities and helping with prevention advice, as there are concerns for the months ahead as the economic impact of coronavirus bites.
“As well as the financial cost, there’s a serious effect on the mental well-being of people living in rural and often isolated areas.
"There are fears that the impact will be felt harder this year as farmers have been working flat-out to feed the nation and many rural communities have been put under additional pressure by the challenges brought by COVID-19.”
This year NFU Mutual invested £430,000 to tackle rural crime, including a police UK-wide agricultural vehicle crime tracking and recovery unit. The insurer has also provided funding for the welfare and shelter of stolen farm animals as police investigate and track down their owners.
For more information on rural crime trends and advice on how to beat rural crime in your area download the report at www.nfumutual.co.uk/ruralcrime.