Melton MP calls for tougher action on rising rural crime
A new dedicated rural crime unit needs to be set up to tackle the multi-million pound losses incurred by UK farmers and other countryside dwellers, aaccording to Melton’s MP.
Alicia Kearns has been pressing the government to introduce more stringent measures to combat rural organised crime and to support those affected.
And she secured a Westminster Hall debate to call for a rural crime unit to be created and for the UK Border Agency to undertake a review into its role in tackling criminal activity because much of the proceeds can end up in mainland Europe.
Mrs Kearns would also like to see a specific training programme developed on rural crime for 111 and 999 phone operators.
Her comments come after figures show that crime in rural areas cost the UK economy almost £50million in 2018, with one-fifth of it in the Midlands alone.
In Leicestershire, rural crime went up nearly 40 per cent, year-on-year, according to the NFU Mutual’s Rural Crime Report in 2019.
In the Westminster debate, Mrs Kearns, said: “I was determined to secure this debate on organised rural crime because I know this is a real concern for Rutland and Melton residents.
“I was elected on a commitment to fight rural crime and I remain dedicated to ensuring that its true nature – organised crime – is recognised by the government.
“When a tractor is stolen from Melton on a Thursday night and is in Poland on a Friday, this can only be the actions of organised crime networks.
“Like all crime, we can only beat organised rural crime by creating a robust strategy and responding seriously to reports of offences.
“We can stop the fear and must start taking victims concerns more seriously.”
Mrs Kearns is currently seeking funding to undertake an inquiry into the organised nature of rural crime where she will bring together experts in areas such as County Lines and Counter Terrorism with rural community experts to identify solutions and reveal the true nature of the issue.
She also talked about the impact of crime on a farming community with a recent National Farmers’ Union (NFU) finding that 84 per cent of farmers under the age of 40 believed mental health was the biggest hidden issue they faced.
“For many rural people, especially farmers, their homes are their businesses, so when they are attacked, they feel that their families, children and livelihoods are under threat,” Mrs Kearns added.
“They often live in highly isolated areas, on their own, where feeling under attack can cause long-term mental health issues.”