As part of the East Midlands Police and Crime Research and Development Plan, https://www.empac.org.uk/east-midlands-police-crime-research-development/, EMPAC is pleased to update on its focus on rural crime, particularly around vulnerability in the rural landscape and how this impacts on victims who may feel isolated and helpless.
De Montfort University have been working in partnership with the National Rural Crime Network (see more information about NCRN below, including the results of the 2018 National Rural Crime Survey) and the National Police Chief’s Council and hosted an important Roundtable on Rural Crime on Wednesday, 7th November 2018. EMPAC Roundtables such as this seek to influence policy and practice by bringing together practitioners with academics to jointly problematise and seek innovative solutions.
This event brought together policing professionals, including national rural crime lead Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor, alongside other partners and academic researchers across several disciplines to discuss the current state of rural crime, what existing research knowledge is available and how to innovate for the future to deliver the best outcomes for the public.
The round table explored:
- The true extent and impact of so called “hidden crime” – offences known to occur but rarely reported to the police or other agencies (Blackbourn and Loveday 2004)?
- Whether rural communities should be policed differently to urban areas in this context?
- Whether some aspects of rural crime mask such “hidden crime”?
- What resources are available to deliver the best outcomes for vulnerable victims in rural environments
- How vulnerable victims can be engaged and safeguarded within rural settings by the police and other stakeholders
National Rural Crime Network and the 2018 National Survey
The National Rural Crime Network is a unique collaboration, which gives people living, working and visiting rural areas a powerful voice. Members and supporters represent millions of people, and as such, are well placed to champion the needs of rural communities. Established in July 2014, the Network is now supported by 30 Police and Crime Commissioners and police forces across England and Wales. The Chair is Julia Mulligan, the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire and the Vice-chair is Tim Passmore, PCC for Suffolk. In addition to PCCs and the police, the Network includes a wide range of other bodies with a deep interest in community safety and rural affairs, ranging from Neighbourhood Watch to Historic England.
The NRCN commission a national survey every year, and the 2018 survey reveals rural communities are living on the edge – in fear of crime, unhappy with the police and feeling isolated and vulnerable. Three years on from the first survey, the 2018 results – from over 20,000 people – show:
- The perception of policing in rural communities is poor, and much worse than in urban areas –only 27 per cent of respondents say their local police are doing a good job – 11 per cent lower than when the same question was asked in 2015 and lower than the national figure from the Crime Survey of England and Wales which finds 62 per cent rate the police in their area as good or excellent.
- Some of the most common concerns are not solely policing matters, like fly tipping and speeding – 57 per cent of respondents said they had seen evidence of fly tipping in the past year, topping the list of offences, with speeding second at 32 per cent. Both are clearly important for rural communities, but are not solely policing issues with responsibility shared among local authorities and other agencies. We believe too many partners, like local authorities, are less able to respond to the needs of rural communities.
- Crime, and the fear of crime, is leading to emotional strain and a loss of confidence, particularly among young people, families and farmers – this survey busts the myths about who we tend to think of as vulnerable when we think of rural crime, and shows that farmers, young people and hard working families are most affected and feeling most vulnerable. A third of rural people believe that crime has a moderate or great impact on their lives.
- Farmers and rural-specific businesses are living with, and in fear of, crime – 69 per cent of farmers and rural-specific business owners have been a victim of crime over the past 12 months with 60 per cent saying they are fairly or very worried about becoming a victim of crime in the future.
- Communities believe crime is a big problem, but many offences go unreported – compared to 2015, the number of crimes going unreported to the police is up by a third for residents and two-thirds by businesses in rural communities – mainly because they do not feel the police and criminal justice system understand the issues or do anything about them.
- The financial strain of crime is significant – the average financial impact of crime on rural-specific business owners is £4,800; 13 per cent up on 2015.
- Ultimately, rural communities are not understood, and services do not match need– too often rural communities are considered safe and prosperous places, this preconception stops serious needs analysis being done. When the lid is lifted it is clear rural people and businesses are fundamentally misunderstood. We believe this is true of many areas, not just crime and policing, and further work needs to be done to assess community safety and service provisions policy across the board in a specifically rural context.
See the Roundtable Report here: EMPAC Rural Crime Roundtable Report
See the 2018 National Rural Crime Survey here: http://www.nationalruralcrimenetwork.net/research/internal/2018survey/