SPEAK up to stop rural crime is the message from charity Crimestoppers which is appealing for anonymous information.
Criminal gangs exploit local wildlife, environment and communities in many ways leaving rural residents feeling unsafe in their own homes, farmers having to foot the bill for criminal damage, and countryside businesses also hit.
A Crimestoppers spokesperson said: “Rural crime is repetitive and organised – without information it can’t be tackled – and yet visitors to the West Midlands region, including the counties Warwickshire and Worcestershire can help by being the eyes and ears of these more isolated communities and report anonymously what they see.
“In the year to April 2021, Crimestoppers nationally received nearly 2,700 anonymous reports about rural crime. Whilst this is a 14 per cent increase on the year before, it suggests a degree of under-reporting – hence why the charity is launching this awareness-raising campaign to encourage more people to speak up.
“Last year, our charity passed on over 18,300 anonymous pieces of information given to us from the people across the West Midlands region.”
Anonymous information given to Crimestoppers included a man using aggressive dogs to carry out illegal hunting of deer and game, tradesmen burying asbestos in a field, an the theft of plant machinery from building sites and farms.
From its latest claims’ statistics, NFU Mutual estimates rural theft cost the UK £43.3million in 2020.
Mark Hallas, Crimestoppers chief executive, said: “Our charity knows how damaging crime in the countryside can be – to local communities, to rural businesses, to farmers, wildlife and the environment.
“Every day we hear from people who are in the know about those involved in damaging our beautiful countryside, but there is so much more we can do. By telling us anonymously what you know, whether you live or are visiting rural areas, your information can help make all the difference.
“A team of professionals working at our charity’s UK Contact Centre anonymise all information received – to ensure the person giving the details is never identified – before passing it on to police to investigate. Your voice really can make a difference. Working together, we can help protect our precious countryside and rural environment, communities and business from the harm caused by these criminal gangs.”
Visit crimestoppers-uk.org for more information about the campaign.