I recently blogged about the fear caused by rural crime and the need for vigilance against it. I called for a strong and visible police presence in our rural areas. I pointed out that ‘neighbourhood policing’ is the current buzz, but it doesn’t sound very rural – what about village crime too?
Figures out today show that the down-turn has seen a rise in violent crime and rural areas are bearing the brunt of this. Rather than saying ‘I told you so’, my reaction is to welcome the fact that this evidence is coming out into the open and to hope that it informs policing. An article on the front page of the Daily Telegraph goes into more detail, reporting that violent crime such as assaults and burglary is up a shocking 20 per cent in the countryside. Neighbouring Cambridgeshire is badly affected. I am going to write again to our Police Authority asking for the Hertfordshire figures and stressing the importance of this issue.
Taking sensible precautions can help reduce the likelihood of being a victim of crime, whether that be rural or urban crime. Getting into good habits such as keeping valuables out of sight as much as possible and keeping a watchful eye out for who is looking at your and your neighbour’s property can all help keep crime at bay. Rural crime has the added dimension that properties are often located out-of-the-way with few people around to witness the perpetrators of violent theft. The prospect that help could be a long way away leads to fear of crime.
I would urge constituents to report crimes, as the incidence of crime reports affects police priorities – the more crime reported, the higher up the scale it goes. I have also been pressing the minister not to cut back on police numbers in rural areas.