CANDIDATES for the Police Crime Commissioner (PCC) electionsare being urged to pledge their support for increased police visibility in rural areas and for a specific commitment to tackling rural crime.

The calls come as the Countryside Alliance released its manifesto ahead of the PCC elections to be held on May 6.

The elections, which were due to take place last year, were postponed due to the Covid-pandemic.

Sarah Lee, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the Countryside Alliance said: “The countryside is an undoubtedly beautiful place in which to live and work, offering a lifestyle that many aspire to have but sadly, despite this, crime is still an increasingly prominent issue for rural communities. Rural crime is a multi-faceted issue, as not only does the experience of crime itself need to be recognised and dealt with, but the rising fear of the subject needs to be acknowledged as well. Rural crime deserves to be recognised for the severity that it holds, the financial and emotional distress that it causes, and given the resources it requires.

The 2020 Rural Crime Survey, published by the Countryside Alliance ahead of the PCC elections, revealed statistics that have helped the organisation to prioritise their demands to all PCC candidates.

The crimes which were recorded as being most frequently committed in rural areas include fly-tipping, agricultural machinery theft, hare poaching and trespass (trespass is not in itself criminal unless aggravated), with respondents wanting the police to prioritise tackling these crimes.

Additionally, according to the survey, there is a serious problem of crime being underreported in rural areas, with one in four not reporting crime they were a victim of. Those surveyed felt it was either a ‘waste of time’ to report it or that the police ‘would not be able to do anything’. 47 per cent of people surveyed did not think the police take rural crime seriously and 57 per cent of people don't think rural policing has improved since Police and Crime Commissioners were introduced in 2012.

The list below highlights just some of those asks which the Alliance believe are most pressing:

• Support dedicated rural crime teams

• Secure fair funding for rural policing

• Encourage people to report rural crime

• Better allocation of police resources