This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Agricultural crime

The Thames Valley PCC was elected to power with several pledges including one to "maintain the balance between urban and rural policing". At the Police & Crime Panel meeting I attended a few weeks ago (in fancy dress), regular readers will recall that this issue was raised. (See this link here for the full information) He was asked whether rural crime was up or down. My recollection is that he said he was still working on an accurate and agreed measure and therefore could not give an answer.

Well, I have been in correspondence with Chief Constable Sara Thornton over this issue. She tells me that "as you know the PCC set rural crime as an objective and so the force has worked on a definition so that we can both measure performance but also give clear guidance to staff".

So, I am guessing, you will be interested to know what the definition is. Here it is:

Rural Crime will include hare coursing and poaching. In addition it will include cases where the offence occurred at: (Scene) 
  • Farm Barn
  • Farm Shop
  • Farm Building
  • Farm Yard
  • Farmhouse
  • Farm Field
  • Fish Farm
OR, the property is: (Property stolen/damaged)
  • Agricultural Machinery
  • Agricultural Tools
  • Fencing
  • Hay/Straw
  • Heating Oil
  • Horses
  • Horse Boxes
  • Livestock
  • Red Diesel
AND, the offence type is: (Offence Type)
  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Theft (excluding bilking)
  • Criminal damage
  • Public health offences (Fly-tipping)

Now you can probably see why I titled this blog the way I did...

Interesting, the Chief Constable goes onto to say "This definition covers acquisitive crime and damage but specifically mentions hare coursing and poaching as well.  We felt that this focus on crimes targeting and affecting the agricultural rural economy would be better than considering rural crime in terms of particular geographical areas, which are hard to define."

She also says that "interestingly, rural crime has fallen over the last few years, whichever definition is applied"

This definition will now be guiding the speed of response to these types of crime and will be supplemented by some targeted operations in rural areas, including "twenty rural crime enforcement and prevention operations across the force area in 2013/14" consisting of "hotspot patrol, targeting of offenders, property marking, crime prevention advice and community engagement" and making use of  "information captured by our new Automatic Number Plate Recognition Cameras that we are deploying in rural areas to help us combat rural crime".

I post this information to inquire of the people living in the rural areas of Thames Valley who voted for Mr Stansfeld in part because of his commitment to 'rural crime' whether this is what you thought you were voting for? There may be others who did not vote for him who have some thoughts as well. 

Whether you are a farmer, a farm worker, a resident of one of the innumerable pretty villages & market towns of Thames Valley, or a parish/town councillor perhaps... what do you think? Is this a good and workable definition of 'rural crime' from your perspective? Are there some things you would like to say to your PCC? 

Whatever your thoughts, I would be interested to know and so do please post them below. Of course you may prefer to contact your PCC directly and offer him your views....

Here is his email address: (other contact details are here)

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