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Why a Rural Crime Project for Northern Warwickshire

In December 2013 the Community Safety Partnership for North Warwickshire presented its annual report to the Overview and Scrutiny committee. The partnership reported good results on its priorities with burglary dwelling and vehicle crime showing reductions. The committee requested that the CSP also look to focus on crime in the rural community.

Approximately 75% of all crime in North Warwickshire is classed as rural crime and this is 30% of all rural crime in the County. Traditional methods of crime mapping of hotspot areas were not necessarily indicative of the impact within the rural communities. There was a need to examine the crime in more detail to identify specific crime types and then put in place initiatives to reduce those crimes.

Victims of crime in rural areas are often isolated or in small communities; this can have a disproportionate impact on those victims and their fear of crime. Some rural crimes have involved the theft of plant or equipment which can adversely affect rural businesses.

In April 2014, Warwickshire County Council Community Safety Project Officers Martyn Stephens and Helen Earp submitted a bid to the Police and Crime Commissioner, to set up a Rural Crime project, with elements that matched the Horsewatch model. In May 2014 we were successful in our bid and funding has been supplied for a two year period.

Horsewatch in North Warwickshire was already a well-established project dealing with equine crime and being more and more involved in rural crime. There was an established website supplying information to its members along with a good facebook and twitter following. Horsewatch has been recognised as good practice and won a national award.

The aims of the project include:
• To identify and promote effective techniques for successfully engaging Rural Communities to enable them to become more self-resilient in preventing and deterring crime
• To gain the confidence of the public to report crimes to the police, establish a true picture of rural crime and ultimately reduce crime and the fear of crime
• To develop and support a Rural Watch website for Warwickshire residents providing information and advice on rural crime; facebook and twitter accounts were also set up
• To work with NHW to increase membership in our rural communities
• To develop a Countywide Rural Watch Scheme using best practice enabling information to be circulated to members
• To support Police Safer Neighbourhood Team staff in the rural areas by providing training and tool kits for them to use.

Having been successful in our bid we have commissioned the services of Carol Cotterill as the Rural Crime Co-ordinator for North Warwickshire. The team supporting Carol are Martyn Stephens (WCC), Helen Earp (WCC) and Mark English (Police) all have qualifications in crime prevention and community safety with the Home Office and Jill Dando Institute. They have worked in the field of community safety for many years. The project has been supplied with an office within the Police Office at Coleshill and WCC provide IT equipment to the project.

The project constantly monitors the crime and suspicious incidents that takes place in the rural areas. Should there be an emerging crime type the team do further research to establish any patterns or trends.
The team establish what the target is such as fuel, electric fence energisers, quad bikes etc and then work to identify solutions. Best practice from around the Country is utilised and used alongside enforcement by the police to catch offenders and crime prevention measures. If a new crime type has been identified this information is shared through the rural crime network to raise awareness.