NFU calls for action on rural crime in East Sussex following PCC elections

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An East Sussex farming leader is calling for rural crime to be a priority following the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections.

Katy Bourne was re-elected as the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner for a fourth term of office earlier this month.

Rural crime has far-reaching consequences, impacting farmers both financially and emotionally. Many farm businesses are also homes for farmers and their families, which can make victims of rural crime feel unsafe and vulnerable.

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Machinery theft, fly-tipping, dog attacks on livestock and hare coursing continue to plague farming communities, costing the UK £49.5 million in 20221 alone. This financial impact, however, only just scratches the surface, given the broader impacts of these crimes, which can often go towards funding organised crime and are underestimated and underreported.

NFU East Sussex Chair Martin HoleNFU East Sussex Chair Martin Hole
NFU East Sussex Chair Martin Hole

NFU East Sussex chair Martin Hole, who farms organic livestock with his family in the county, said: “Farmers in East Sussex do have a lot of issues with rural crime, particularly with things like theft, trespassing, fly-tipping and dog attacks on livestock.

“A major concern with rural crime is that many people in rural areas are extremely isolated and so the issues are magnified.

“We do have a good working relationship with the police and the PCC.

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“We need for that good work to continue and for rural crime to be a top priority.”

Rural crime continues to be a major issue for many farmers in East Sussex.Rural crime continues to be a major issue for many farmers in East Sussex.
Rural crime continues to be a major issue for many farmers in East Sussex.

The NFU’s Manifesto, a document of key asks of all political parties ahead of the next general election, calls for a consistent and coordinated response to rural crime across government and police forces.

This includes fair funding for rural policing, a dedicated rural crime team in every police force in the country and the formation of a cross-departmental rural crime task force to address the failures in dealing with rural crime.

NFU Vice President Rachel Hallos said: “The public clearly value the pressing need for action against rural crime, with nearly three-quarters of the public calling for it to be treated more seriously by the police.

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“To tackle rural crime effectively, we are asking PCCs to ensure priorities for addressing rural crime are detailed in their Police and Crime Plan and for the recruitment of a dedicated rural crime specialist.”

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