THE charity Crimestoppers has launched the biggest national rural crime campaign in its history with an appeal for anonymous information to help protect hard-pressed rural communities. It calls on everyone to play their part in stopping rural crime as more of us are visiting the countryside during the pandemic.
Criminal gangs exploit local wildlife, environment and communities in many ways: rural residents often feel unsafe in their own homes; farm owners have to foot the bill for criminal damage, and local businesses in rural areas can see their income and cashflow adversely affected.
Rural crime is repetitive and organised – without information, it can’t be tackled – and yet visitors can help by being the eyes and ears of these more isolated communities and report anonymously what they see.
In the year to April 2021, Crimestoppers received nearly 2,700 anonymous reports about rural crime. Whilst this is a 14% increase on the year before, it suggests a degree of under-reporting – hence why the charity is launching this awareness-raising campaign to encourage more people to speak up.
Here are some anonymised examples of information the charity has recently received:
- A (named) man is using aggressive dogs to carry out illegal hunting of deer and game, including rabbits. He goes hunting across the fields at (named location).
- Local tradesmen at (address given) are burying asbestos in earth mounds on the field (as given). They are also dumping and burning rubbish.
- Men (named) all involved in the theft of plant machinery from building sites and farms. They are involved in stealing diggers, caterpillars, bobcats and tractors that do not have trackers on. They have been doing this for many years. They sell the stolen goods to others, including across Europe.
From its latest claims’ statistics issued earlier this month, NFU Mutual estimates that rural theft cost the UK a staggering £43.3m in 2020.
Crimestoppers has been working with Mitie and Neighbourhood Watch to help raise the profile of rural crime. They want people to know what it is, why it’s a problem and what the public can do to help. The charity’s 4-week national campaign is supported by NFU Mutual, RSPCA, Countryside Alliance, NFU, Openreach, FireStoppers, Link, National Wildlife Crime Unit, Environment Agency, CLA and the Angling Trust.
Key themes will focus on wildlife crime, environmental crime and theft, all of which have a detrimental and often crushing effect on rural communities.
Initially, the campaign will explore hare coursing, poaching and badger baiting, with advice on how to spot the signs, sharing prevention advice and hearing from organisations who work with the police and other partners to prevent and solve these crimes. The campaign will also share guest content from partners in the police to learn what they’re doing and how your anonymous information can help police investigations.
For more information about the campaign, visit Crimestoppers.
Mark Hallas, Chief Executive at the charity Crimestoppers, said:
“Our charity and partners know how damaging crime in the countryside can be: to communities, to rural businesses, to farmers, wildlife and the local environment.
“Every day, we hear from people who are in the know about those involved in damaging our beautiful countryside, but there is so much more we can do. By telling us anonymously what you know, whether you live or are visiting rural areas, your information can help make all the difference.
“A team of professionals working at our charity’s UK Contact Centre anonymise all information received – to ensure the person giving the details is never identified – before passing it on to police to investigate. Your voice really can make a difference. Working together, we can help protect our precious countryside and rural environment, communities and business from the harm caused by these criminal gangs.”
Rebecca Davidson, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual, said:
“While lockdowns may have kept some criminals out of the countryside – rural crime hasn’t gone away. Gangs are now returning armed with new tactics. By sharing information through Crimestoppers, you can make a difference and help stem the tide as criminals become more active again.”
Jason Towse, Managing Director, Business Services, Mitie, said:
“Rural crime affects communities across the UK. However, it isn’t something we can tackle alone. We’re passionate about bringing together public and private sector organisations to share expertise and help fight crime. Members of the public have a role to play too and can offer vital support by anonymously reporting any criminal activity through Crimestoppers. Together, we can all help to keep the nation safe.”
To report rural crime 100% anonymously, visit the charity’s website Crimestoppers-uk.org and fill in a simple and secure anonymous online form or call their 24/7 UK Contact Centre on freephone 0800 555 111, 365 days of the year. In an emergency, always call 999.
Please note: Computer IP addresses are never traced, and nobody will ever know you contacted Crimestoppers. For telephone calls, there is no caller line display, no 1471 facility, and the charity has never traced a call.