While much of the fencing we undertake at Dodd & Co. is concerned with stock management, there is also an element of security attached as well. Rural crime is costing the economy millions of pounds; in fact a recent survey by the Rural Crime Network of 17,000 people living and working in rural areas throughout England and Wales suggests that the cost of crime in rural areas could be higher than £800m. This dwarfs earlier estimates and has come as a shock to government and rural communities alike.
The key results that emerged from the survey showed:
The financial impact of crime on rural economy is significant. The estimated £800m is the equivalent to £200 for every household in the countryside. The average cost to victims of crime ranges from £2,500 to £4,100.
Fear of crime is increasing. The survey found that 39 per cent of rural people are worried about becoming a victim of crime. This compares with 19 per cent nationally. This is an incredible statistic considering the perception of crime levels in major cities. Rural businesses are most fearful – 51 per cent of respondents said they were very worried about crime.
Satisfaction with the police performance in rural areas was low. Only 6.3 per cent rated the police as providing an excellent service, and just 39 per cent rate the police performance as good. In urban communities the police are rated as good or above by 63 per cent of the population.
There is a chronic under-reporting of crime. 27 per cent of victims did not bother to report a crime in 2014. This distorts figures and provides the wrong impression of what is actually happening in the rural communities.
On the positive side, community spirit was seen to be strong in rural communities, with 27 per cent of respondents saying they felt the sense of belonging had increased in the past five years.
The survey revealed that the two issues that caused the greatest angst in the community were road safety and fly tipping - the latter has now become a civil offence.
The Rural Crime Network will now analyse the data and publish findings and recommendations in due course. We will provide an update here, but in the meantime, here are some measures that we can all take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of rural crime.
- Fit good quality locks on all gates and doors
- Protect windows with metal bars or grilles
- Install security lighting
- Consider installing CCTV to provide surveillance in the most vulnerable areas of the property
- Ensure your boundaries and perimeters are as secure as possible
- If possible remove all access points that are no longer used and establish a single gated entrance and exit
- Invert and cap gate hinges to gates cannot be lifted off
- Use locking posts or temporary instructions to control large openings to the yard
- Plant thorn hedges as a extra layer of security at boundaries.
- Restrict opportunities for fly-tipping by fencing boundaries
There are many more actions you can take to ensure that your property and livestock remain safe and secure. Kent police force has produced a very comprehensive booklet that you can access here: http://www.kent.police.uk/advice/business/attachments/shutting_the_gate.pdf