CLA welcomes Labour pledge to establish Rural Crime Strategy

The CLA has welcomed a pledge from the Labour party to establish a Rural Crime Strategy, and called for it to be properly resourced.

Sir Keir Starmer has outlined how his party would tackle rural crime, citing new research commissioned by Labour from the House of Commons Library that reveals the crime rate in rural areas has surged by 32 per cent since 2011 – compared to 24 per cent for urban areas – with a total rise of almost 130,000 reported offences.

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) President Victoria Vyvyan said, “Criminals are often emboldened by the isolation of rural communities. As a result, rural crime is anything but petty, and it often comes with the explicit threat of violence from thugs linked to organised criminal gangs.

“Expensive machinery is being stolen and moved abroad, hare-coursing is being live-streamed for illegal international betting markets, even crimes many thought of as being a thing of the past – such as sheep rustling – are increasingly common.

“We warmly welcome Labour’s announcement of a Rural Crime Strategy, something that is needed to protect people, communities and businesses. The first place to start must surely be ending the chronic underfunding of rural police forces.”

The Labour leader’s action plan includes:

  • Launching the first government-backed Rural Crime Strategy, ensuring cross-government coordination between the Home Office, Defra and other departments
  • Increasing police patrols in rural areas, as part of plans for 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs
  • Tougher measures to clamp down on antisocial behaviour, agricultural crime and drug dealing, with stronger laws to prevent GPS farm equipment theft, new powers to tackle livestock worrying, and requiring fly-tippers to clean-up their own mess
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