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  • Alistair Strathern

Alistair Strathern MP backs first-ever rural crime strategy to safeguard farmers





Alistair Strathern, MP for Mid Bedfordshire and Labour candidate for Hitchin, has joined with John Tizard, Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Bedfordshire, to back new plans for the UK’s first-ever Rural Crime Strategy – which aims tackle the issues like farm equipment theft and fly-tipping.


It comes as new research reveals that the crime rate in rural areas has surged by 32% since 2011, compared to 24% for urban areas. Reported offences have skyrocketed to 130,000 in total, including almost 30,000 more offences of criminal damage and arson.


Research has found the problem to be particularly acute in areas controlled by Conservative PCCs.


Farming is the bedrock of our local towns and villages, but rural crime poses a significant challenge to farmers and their businesses, with many resorting to paying for private security.  


Alistair Strathern MP said:


“The current Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner is letting farmers down here in Bedfordshire. it’s his job to ensure our police are meeting the needs of the community, but I know from countless conversations with farmers across our county, they don’t currently feel like they can count on the police.


“It is just not right that at a time when farmers are being squeezed with spiralling overheads, many have felt they have to fork out for private security to keep themselves and their businesses safe.


“Only Labour has a plan to protect our farmers and stop rural crime – and that starts by voting for Labour’s John Tizard to be our Police and Crime Commissioner here in Bedfordshire on Thursday.”


John Tizard, Labour’s candidate for Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner:


“Rural crime is a growing problem in Bedfordshire. Under a Conservative government and PCC rural policing has been depleted. I will reverse this.


“My mission to restore effective community policing will mean community police teams working in and with every village in the county and supporting farmers and rural businesses.


“Wherever you live in Bedfordshire, you deserve an outstanding police service. That’s my commitment.”


Labour’s Shadow DEFRA Secretary, Steve Reed MP said:


“The Conservatives have wrecked our rural economy.


“Red tape at the borders and eye watering energy bills have forced farmers out of business, with many good local jobs lost.


“Labour will give farmers their future back. We will cut energy bills for farmers, slash red tape at our borders to get food exports moving again and use the Government’s own purchasing power to back British produce.”


Notes to Editors:


  • Alistair Strathern MP is Labour's candidate for the new Hitchin constituency.

  • Alistair Strathern MP recently visited Oldfield farm to meet with owners James and Georgie to discuss Labour’s plans to tackle rural crime.

  • John Tizard is Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Bedfordshire.

Labour’s Rural Crime Strategy includes:


  • Launching the first ever government-backed Rural Crime Strategy, ensuring cross-government coordination between the Home Office, DEFRA and other departments, and work with the National Crime Agency to take down rural organised crime gangs.

  • Increasing police patrols in rural areas, as part of Labour’s plans for 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs which will cover all communities and help free up response resource for rural policing.

  • 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 and local drug enforcement teams.

Further reading:


  • Across rural areas, confidence in the police has dropped by 10 percentage points over the last five years - mirroring a similar fall in victim satisfaction, with the proportion of victims happy with the service they received dropping from 67 per cent to 56 per cent. Confidence in the police is now lower in rural areas than in major urban centres.

  • Rural crimes are also increasingly going unpunished. Analysis from the BBC has found that suspects are almost 25 per cent more likely to be charged for crimes in urban areas than in the countryside - while last year, only nine per cent of thefts in Tory-led North Yorkshire resulted in formal action.

  • Meanwhile farming bodies have reported significant rises in rural crime, especially theft linked to organised crime groups. According to NFU Mutual, 80 per cent of members are reporting disruption to their activities from rural crime, and the total cost of rural crime has risen by 22.1 per cent over the last year to £49.5 million. The NFU also report that international trends have accelerated demand for stolen machinery. The total cost of claims linked to agricultural machinery has risen by 29 per cent, while the cost of claims linked to GPS theft has risen by 15 per cent.

  • Over the past year alone, Tory-led North Yorkshire has witnessed:

    • 20 per cent rise in possession of weapons offences.

    • 18 per cent rise in vehicle offences.

    • 15 per cent rise in theft offences.   ENDS

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