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Commissioner holds round table for rural communities

POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Darryl Preston held a virtual round table for people living and working in rural communities across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough last night, Monday 8th November.

With rural crime featured as an early priority in Darryl’s Police and Crime Plan, due to be published towards the end of November 2021, the meeting was an opportunity for people to discuss their concerns regarding rural crime.

Those attending were provided with updates from organisations working together to help tackle rural crime and keep communities safe including Cambridgeshire Countryside Watch, Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Opening the event, Darryl confirmed his commitment to working in partnership to tackle crime and support those living in rural communities.

“I wanted to hear directly from farmers and residents of rural areas about the issues they experience,” said Darryl. “Whether hare coursing, theft or fly tipping, the impact of this kind of criminal activity when you live in a remote area can be devastating.

“Rural crime cost the UK £54.3m in 2019 with organised criminals using sophisticated methods to steal high value agricultural equipment, livestock and other property. However, the real cost is incalculable. If you add the time wasted and all the extra costs involved in reporting, replacing, fixing and preventing, the real figure surrounding this criminal activity runs into many millions of pounds.”

Issues such as hare coursing, theft of farming and other equipment, criminal damage, fly tipping and unlawful encampments were amongst topics discussed at the meeting.

“When it comes to finding new ways to prevent hare coursing, RCAT’s innovative use of Civil Injunctions to prevent prolific offenders is being looked at by other forces,” added Darryl.

Since taking office, Darryl has more than doubled funding to Cambridgeshire Countryside Watch (CCW) to enable the volunteer group to take a greater role in crime prevention and support victims. In addition, the RCAT has been bolstered with more officers and we are now seeing rural crime reducing.

For the year 2021/2022 CCW have been awarded £37k.