A Rushcliffe councillor says he fears victims of rural crime in Nottinghamshire are not being taken seriously after a police officer was said to have asked one victim ‘you are insured, aren’t you?’ following the theft of more than £100,000 of farm kit.
Cllr Rob Inglis (Con), Portfolio Holder for Environment and Safety at Rushcliffe Borough Council, expressed his concerns at a Police and Crime Panel meeting on Monday, November 15.
He was responding to a decision made by the new Police and Crime Commissioner, Caroline Henry (Cons) not to invest cash in a dedicated rural crime team for the county.
Mrs Henry said in August that rural communities in places like Newark and Worksop were losing their trust in Nottinghamshire Police.
She said some victims are no longer reporting incidents they don’t believe will be investigated – and more police resources should be put into tackling rural crime.
Rural crime can involve the theft of expensive farming machinery, which can cripple the livelihoods of farmers, as well as poaching and livestock offences.
Launching her draft crime plan for the next four years, Mrs Henry said she decided not to put cash into a dedicated team.
Mrs Henry said: “Rural crime has been mentioned so much to me – ‘we need a rural crime team’ but actually I could have pulled money out of reserves and formed a rural crime team – a sergeant and six (officers) – but it would not have tackled what we needed to do. It would have made a great picture, but not built confidence.
“I wanted to see a whole response to rural crime improving. We have a new rural crime lead and 25 wildlife trained officers. I know it is improving but there is more to do.”
Cllr Inglis said he was “disappointed” with Mrs Henry’s decision.
He said: “I get a lot of communication from our rural communities – I wanted to take back something to the community which says ‘this is the offer on the table.’ I don’t think it is there. Not having a rural crime team, I am a little disappointed.”
He said Mrs Henry’s election material was all about tackling rural crime and there was a perception that if rural crime is reported to the police it gets “glanced over”.
Cllr Inglis said he’d been told by a victim of crime one officer said “you are insured, aren’t you?” after they reported more than £100,000 of farming kit being stolen.
Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, Craig Guildford, responded saying decisions are made on “threat, harm and risk”.
But he was unhappy with the police officer’s response to the alleged crime, stressing: “That is a large amount of money. I don’t like the comment ‘you are insured.’
Mrs Henry added: “You need to trust me. A small rural crime team would not make that much difference. I want to change how Nottinghamshire Police deal with rural crime. I want them to deal with it seriously.”
Mrs Henry will establish an Anti-social Behaviour Taskforce to help increase “public confidence in the response to ASB” as part of her crime plan.
More than £2.6m of her budget will also go into local drug treatment services for offenders across Nottinghamshire.
She will also invest £1.5m to direct young people out of the court system by addressing “the underlying causes of early onset offending”.
Around £400,000 will be pumped into late-night policing, which includes the city-based Operation Guardian, targeting those selling drugs such as cocaine and cannabis to people on nights out.
There will also be an annual £250,000 ‘Make Notts Safe Fund’ for community-led third sector organisations to take action to address the community safety issues they face.
She also wants to create “a hostile” environment for criminals, ensuring more ANPR cameras are purchased to stop criminals operating across Nottinghamshire.
“I want fewer victims, greater trust in our police, and really strong victim services,” she told the panel, which is made up of councillors and independent members.