Local farmers give views on policing to Sussex PCC
As part of Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne's engagement programme, her office held online consultations last week with members of the National Farmers' Union. One meeting focused on the east and the other on the west of the county; both involved Sussex Police along with the Sussex & Surrey Association of Local Councils.
Participants in both groups highlighted the need for better methods of effective intelligence-sharing between farmers and the police, both locally and across wider areas. Also, they were keen to see the introduction of a quicker and easy-to-use reporting system which clearly flags up rural crime as a specific crime type.
Other issues included the recent increase in fly tipping and hare coursing - a probable result of the relatively empty countryside due to lockdown, making it more susceptible to criminal activity - along with the need for better cross-border police operations in those parts of Sussex adjoining neighbouring counties.
At the online meetings, Rural Sergeant Tom Carter outlined the Force's brand new plans for an expanded rural crime unit with newly recruited police officers trained to handle crimes specific to the countryside and farming communities. He explained that plans are being formulated and there will be more details available to share in the coming weeks.
PCC Katy Bourne commented:
"Having a dedicated rural crime team is something for which I've been pushing hard in recent times, beginning with the introduction of six rural PCSOs last year. I'm clear that our farming community should feel well supported by Sussex Police as I understand the devastating impact of crime on their livelihoods and the importance of peace of mind in what often feels a lonely environment."
Ben Taylor, NFU member who farms at Iford near Lewes, said:
"The police force is the one organisation farmers feel we should be able to turn to for help. When we're told they can't do anything as they don't have enough resources it makes us feel despairing - so we're encouraged that Sussex Police are creating a dedicated rural crime team."
Mark Chandler, NFU member who farms at Petworth, said:
"The six rural PCSOs have already made a real difference to how the Force engages with our farming communities, so to hear that a team of new rural police officers will soon be recruited in Sussex is fantastic news."