More resources needed to fight rural crime in Shropshire, says farmer
A farmer has called for more resources to be put into tackling rural crime after it was revealed Shropshire saw a 13.2 per cent rise last year.
Richard Yates, whose dairy farm near Bridgnorth has been targeted several times in the past, said only last week one of his neighbours had a quad bike stolen.
"We have this continued debate about rural crime, and the figures continue to increase, while little in the way of resources are seem to be directed towards solving it," he said.
"We know resources are tight, and within the police the funds are being channelled towards urban areas."
The latest figures from insurer NFU Mutual showed that rural crime cost Shropshire £1.23 million last year, a 13.2 per cent rise on the previous year. The increase is in the county is above the national average rise of 12 per cent.
Mr Yates, who keeps Manor Farm in Middleton Scriven, is the West Midlands regional livestock chairman at the National Farmer's Union.
He said he hoped that new Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement of 20,000 extra police officers would be used to address the problem.
"Whenever there's a break-in or a burglary, it seems that all you are is a crime number."
He said fly-tipping was another problem that was growing in the countryside.
Mr Yates said he had four quad bikes stolen in 10 years.
"Some farms on the urban fringe are more akin to Peaky Blinders than The Archers,” he added.
NFU Mutual said the sharp rises were driven mainly by high-value thefts of tractors, quad bikes and other farm vehicles – up 26 per cent to £7.4m in 2018.
In June West Mercia Police held Operation Vulture, a two-day crackdown on rural crime.
A gun was seized and five people arrested after a helicopter pursuit through south Shropshire.
A total of 155 vehicles were stopped and a further five arrests were made during the crackdown.
Police also mounted an operation on the Shropshire and Staffordshire county boundary involving checks on vehicles reported as having been seen in suspicious circumstances. One man was arrested for providing a positive drug swipe, and a quad vehicle was confiscated for checks on its ownership.
West Mercia police and crime commissioner John Campion said house burglaries in the force area were down by six per cent, and non-domestic burglaries had fallen by seven per cent.
He said the force had made money available for a number of initiatives to protect homes and businesses from burglaries and rural crime.