‘Sentences for rural crime must act as a deterrent’

The NFU raised its concerns with the solicitor general that the sentences given for rural crime do not act as a strong enough deterrent.

In a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Rural Crime, the NFU expressed to the solicitor general Robert Buckland QC the need for an effective justice system that reflects the true costs of crime to farmers.

At the meeting, there were continued calls for police to seize dogs from hare coursers and have the ability to reclaim kenneling costs, first raised by the NFU with the Policing Minister Nick Hurd.

Attending the meeting as the sole farming organisation in attendance, NFU chief land management adviser Sam Durham said: “Rural crime has devastating impacts for farmers and food-producing businesses, and it is only right that the punishments handed down to these criminals are severe enough to act as a deterrent.

“This was an excellent opportunity to meet with the Solicitor General to raise these points and how rural crime affects farmers and rural communities.”

Progress on rural crime

The meeting follows just days after the launch of the NFU’s Rural Crime Reporting Line in partnership with Crimestoppers.

The new line aims to allow farmers to anonymously give information about large-scale industrial fly-tipping, hare coursing, machinery theft and livestock theft by calling: 0800-783-0137; or visiting: www.ruralcrimereportingline.uk.

NFU deputy president Guy Smith said: “The growing issue of rural crime is one of the most frequent conversations I have with our members and the NFU has made this area one of its key priorities.

“It may well be that these criminals have more in common with serious, organised crime than petty theft. It is clear that there must be a co-ordinated approach between police and government to properly tackle this blight on the countryside.”