FLY-TIPPING, theft and trespass are among the rural crimes facing rural people in Hampshire, a new survey has revealed.

Crime has always been a key issue throughout the countryside, but this has only risen up the national agenda over the last few years, thanks to a growing awareness of the problems rural communities are facing. However, this increased awareness is often not felt by the communities that live and work in the countryside, with 98 per cent of Hampshire respondents feeling that rural crime has a significant impact in their community, according to the survey carried out by the Countryside Alliance.

The extent of crime in rural areas is only part of the problem. For many people, whether they have fallen victim to crime or not, the simple fear of crime can have as great a detrimental effect on their quality of life as the actual experience of crime itself. The effect of long-term emotional stress, loss of confidence - particularly among young people, families and farmers - should not be underestimated. This fear of crime is also exacerbated by rural isolation.

The crimes which were recorded as the most frequently committed in rural areas, include fly-tipping, agricultural machinery theft and trespass, with respondents wanting the police to prioritise tackling these crimes.

Nationally, there is a serious problem of crime being underreported in rural areas, with more than one in four not reporting the last 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 and 47 per cent of people don’t think the police take rural crime seriously, while 57 per cent of people don’t think rural policing has improved since Police and Crime Commissioners were introduced in 2012.

The implication of these findings is that the rural population is putting up with the crime they experience and making do as best they can, the alliance says.

Sarah Lee, head of policy at the Countryside Alliance said: “Good rural policing is about far more than numbers of police officers on the ground. If we truly want to tackle rural crime, then we must form effective partnerships between the police, rural communities and other authorities to ensure that the needs of our rural communities are truly understood so that the availability of services matches those needs.”

She added: “It is clear from these results that there is a lot to do in tackling rural crime and working with communities to ensure the impact of it is lessened, and to tackle the crime problems rural communities face.”

The alliance undertook the survey in March 2020 ahead of the Police and Crime Commissioner elections which were due to take place in May 2020 but were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 8,000 people, who live or work in the countryside, gave heir views on how crime impacted their lives, about crimes that had been committed against them, and the policing of rural communities.

The results will help influence how rural policing is prioritised in rural communities and ensure that Police and Crime Commissioners, the police and other authorities understand the needs, concerns and priorities of rural communities.