The Rural Crime Toolkit brings together the latest information on tackling crime in rural areas including:
- the impact of new technology on rural policing;
- how to assess local situations and develop and implement plans to combat particular crimes; and
- best practice from around the country.
Speaking at a crime reduction conference for crime and disorder partnerships in the east of England, Mr Straw said:
'Levels of crime in our rural communities are lower than in our urban areas, indeed levels of burglary, violent crime, and vehicle crime are actually declining. But this is no reason to be complacent.
'The British Crime Survey also indicates that while the level of general crime may be lower in rural areas, there is a widespread perception that crime rates in rural areas are rising. That concerns me.
'Fear of crime is an important issue, especially to people living in isolated country areas a long distance from any services. If communities see key agencies working together to tackle crime, it will make them less fearful. That is why the partnership approach is so important.
'Reducing crime is everyone's business. And success will bring benefits to everyone.'
The toolkit tells crime fighters how technologies being developed by the Home Office will be able to assist police in rural areas such as:
- wire-free alarms and alarm identification systems which will reduce police time spent on false alarms in rural areas; and
- property identification through tracking using tagging or 'chipping' and the geographical information system technology to help tackle thefts from farms, in particular long range transmission systems for CCTV and alarms using relay stations.
The toolkit looks at crimes common to both rural and urban areas with specific sections looking at rural crimes such as thefts of livestock and farm equipment, wildlife crime and mass trespass.
The Rural Crime Toolkit is the fourth in a series of 22 crime-fighting toolkits being published by the home office.
1. Rural Crime Toolkit
The Rural Crime Toolkit is available today at www.crimereduction.gov.uk/toolkits. CD Roms and booklets are being sent to crime and disorder reduction partnerships from March.
The toolkit highlights key perceptions on rural crime from the British Crime Survey:
- rural dwellers are less likely to believe they will become victims of crime in the next year than urban dwellers;
- almost nine in ten rural dwellers considered that the police did a fairly good job in 1998.
The British Crime Survey shows a fall in almost all crimes between 1995 and 1999. Falls in rural areas, looking at burglary, violence and vehicle-related theft was either similar to or greater than in non-rural areas.
Examples oflocal solutions includes:
- West Mercia's Rural Policing Strategy;
- Use of Neighbourhood Wardens in the village of Mullion, Cornwall;
- Targeted Policing Initatives in Northumbria and the Fenlands; and
- British Transport Police's Secure Stations Scheme.
2. Funding to reduce crime in the east of England
Partnerships in the east of England have already secured around£7m of funding under the crime reduction programme so far, including:
- 36 CCTV projects spread over 17 crime and disorder partnership areas;
- 11 projects under the reducing burglary initiative covering nine partnerships;
- two projects under the Targeted Policing Initiative;
- three projects under the violence against women initiative; and
- four Neighbourhood Warden schemes.
Norwich has been awarded£19 m, with the possibility of a further£15m, under the New Deal for Communities, to pilot a community-led approach to crime and social problems in some of its poorest housing estates. The initiative will use community wardens, additional police officers, youth projects and a drug strategy.
Luton and Great Yarmouth will be receiving targeted assistance through the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund to help improve housing, raise school standards, reduce crime and improve health in deprived areas.
3. East of England Crime Reduction Conference
Today's conference audience includes representatives from the police, social services, probation services, local education authorities and the voluntary and charitable sector.
The aim of the conference is to bring together the top executives of public bodies with a key role to play in crime reduction, to highlight the importance of partnership working, and to introduce those in the east of England to their key partners across the region.
Speakers included representatives from the Council for Racial Equality, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the NHS, the Government Office for the East of England and the Prison Service.