Pandemic leads to big decrease in rural crime - The Evesham Observer

Pandemic leads to big decrease in rural crime

Evesham Editorial 6th Aug, 2021   0

THE COST of rural theft in Warwickshire and Worcestershire fell dramatically during Covid restrictions.

In 2020 it fell nearly 35 per cent to an estimated £1.1million in Warwickshire and by 41 per cent to around £476,000 in Worcestershire.

The drop was down to pandemic restrictions, increased farm security and rural policing kept criminals out of the countryside, according to figures released by Stratford-based rural insurer NFU Mutual.

In its Rural Crime Report, published this week, NFU Mutual revealed rural theft cost the UK an estimated £43.3milion in 2020, a fall of just over 20 per cent on the previous year, making it the lowest annual cost recorded in five years.




But highly-organised criminals continued to plague farmyards during the pandemic, stealing high-value farming Global Positioning Systems and targeting expensive quad bikes, tools and livestock.

Other rural crimes, including dog attacks on livestock and fly-tipping rose sharply. The value of sheep and cattle attacked by dogs in the UK shot up by ten per cent in 2020 to £1.3million, in a year which saw a surge in pet ownership and countryside visits.


And the situation continues to worsen as NFU Mutual claims data shows the cost of attacks rose 50 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year.

Fly-tipping in fields, gateways and country lanes reached epidemic proportions as waste recycling centres restricted access, leaving farmers to deal with the clean-up and risks to their health and their livestock and the environment.

Rebecca Davidson, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Coronavirus restrictions, ramped-up security on farms and Warwickshire’s dedicated rural crime team provided a welcome fall in rural thefts last year.

“While lockdown may have locked some criminals out of the countryside – rural crime hasn’t gone away. Thieves are now returning armed with new tactics and targets. As the economic impact of the pandemic bites, we are very concerned that rural theft may escalate significantly.

“There’s no doubt that when we work together with police, farmers, communities and other rural organisations to tackle rural crime it can make a real difference. That’s why we’re working closely with police and the farming community to share information, help protect property and raise awareness.

“Last year also saw sharp rises in other crimes such as dog attacks on livestock which caused appalling suffering to farm animals and huge anxiety for farmers and their families as they dealt with the aftermath.”

Insp Allison Wiggin, Rural Crime Lead for Warwickshire Police, was pleased to see the reduction in claims figures in the county.

She said: “Our team has worked hard throughout the pandemic to tackle rural crime, help keep our rural communities safe and support the farmers in our county.

“The systems we have in place ensure we are aware of incidents reported ensuring we respond effectively to support victims and tackle any emerging trends, such as livestock worrying.

“In 2020, the Rural Crime Team recovered over £500,000 of stolen agricultural vehicles, equipment, tools, plant and caravans.

“We continue to do all we can to engage with our farmers, provide advice, support, plus disrupt and bring offenders to justice.”

For more information on rural crime trends and advice, download the report at www.nfumutual.co.uk/ruralcrime

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