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Rural Crime - Understanding, Listening and Reacting to the concerns of the community

The Stratford District is blessed with large areas of countryside, in which a significant percentage of our communities live and work. The challenge for the police has always been to deliver a consistent policing service across all areas, in the face of high demands that are brought about by the more densely populated urban areas. Recently in the media there has been coverage of a number of different criminal offences that have occurred in rural areas, albeit those offences are not necessarily connected and have taken place across large geographical areas. Understandably this can lead to a heightened fear of crime within rural communities. Policing these large areas comes with its own unique challenges and unfortunately we can't be everywhere at all times. We continually use intelligence to plan our patrol routes so our officers are best placed to disrupt criminal activity and provide reassurance to our communities. We also have a number of police bases strategically located across the district, so officers can respond promptly to any ongoing incidents.

However, it is acknowledged that more can be done to address the concerns of rural communities and build trust and confidence whilst maintaining the balance between the provision of policing services into both urban and rural areas.

Warwickshire Police is committed to tackling rural crime and to understanding, listening and reacting to the concerns of the community. This includes the prevention, disruption and prosecution of criminal activity across the Stratford District and there are a number of actions that are in place to continue to build on this approach.

  • There is now a police inspector in post who holds dedicated and coordinated responsibility for our approach towards rural crime across the county.

  • A rural crime strategy will shortly be finalised and published that will provide clarity around our approach, focus and commitment. This will reflect and embed the partnership approach that is taken alongside local authorities, other public sector agencies and a host of organisations that represent rural interests.

  • A dedicated Rural Crime Policing Team will be introduced in the autumn. These officers will be experts in their field, will understand the problems experienced in rural communities and will make a real difference to the lives of people living and working in the Stratford District.

  • Policing teams will continue to work in close partnership and share information with Stratford District Council and their Rural Crime Advisors who can provide specialist advice on crime prevention alongside the installation of crime deterrence equipment.

  • Local Safer Neighbourhood Teams will be holding engagement events and utilise the Mobile Police Station in some of the more isolated villages.

  • There will be continued investment into the Supported Villages Scheme and the promotion of Rural Watch to ensure that communities across the Stratford District are provided with the best protection advice and up to date news on emerging trends or issues that could affect them.

    · There will be an investment into the number of Police Community Support Officers which will benefit parts of the rural Stratford District.

    · Safer Neighbourhood Teams will continue to be the predominant face of policing to communities but there are many other aspects to Warwickshire Police that support the provision of policing services within rural Warwickshire. These include response officers, Special Constables and officers that are dedicated to patrolling the roads network.

    The support of the public is a critical factor in the success of tackling rural criminality. Making rural communities even safer places to live, work and visit relies on engagement, partnership working and the confidence of local people to report suspicious activity. Warwickshire Police remain committed to this approach and will build on this over the coming months to make further improvements that rural communities want to see.

    Local Policing Commander Chief Supt Ben Smith states: 'Warwickshire is an extremely safe county and we are fortunate that crime levels are comparatively low, especially in our rural areas. However, I acknowledge that if you have been a victim of crime, or have read about some of the more serious and impactful incidents, you will understandably seek additional assurances about our policing approach in rural communities. It will always be the case that we will have to make difficult decisions on how we best use our resources but, even when budgets have been at their tightest, we have committed to maintaining police numbers across our safer neighbourhood teams. It is now pleasing to be able to update that, as a direct result of the additional monies raised via the policing element of local council tax, we can enhance the policing services that we deliver in rural communities. In addition to what is outlined, we are also now able to put additional officers into our response and investigations teams, which will further enhance policing services to all communities across Warwickshire.'

    Stratford District Council Community Safety Manager Karin Stanley states: 'Stratford-on-Avon District Council is committed to supporting our rural communities by working in partnership with Warwickshire Police to tackle rural crime. Our Rural Crime Adviser, funded by the Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner, works with individuals & business who have been victims of rural crime providing bespoke crime prevention advice and equipment solutions. We also coordinate the Supported Villages scheme which empowers local communities to get more involved in taking action to protect their own property and possessions and not be a soft target for criminals. We would urge people to always report crimes or suspicious activity to the Police, as having a clear understanding of current crimes and trends helps in tackling it. You cannot underestimate the importance of having vigilant local residents helping to combat rural crime.'

Published 05/07/19