POLICE and Crime Commissioner Donna Jones says building partnerships is key to driving down rural crime across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The call to action comes as the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) launches its action week which runs until September 24.

Hampshire Chronicle: Donna JonesDonna Jones PCC Donna Jones said: “We must all come together to confront rural crime head-on and keep saying to these criminals repeatedly that we won’t tolerate your takeover of our countryside and rural way of life any longer.

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“Rural communities are more frequently becoming victims of serious and organised crime that’s costing farmers and landowners millions of pounds every year.

“My pledges to reopen ten more police stations to the public and bring back named local Bobbies to every community along with the successful recruitment of 650 extra police officers, mean that rural communities across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will benefit from increased police visibility but there is always more to be done.

“Since being elected as Police Commissioner, I have prioritised rural crime and I’m doing everything I can to make sure policing needs are met swiftly, and that investment is constantly being made to counteract this growing curse on our countryside.”

The first round of the Commissioner’s Emerging Needs Fund focused on rural crime, with nearly £84,000 being awarded to 10 successful applications that tackle rural crime or tackle crime in rural communities across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

These include re-deployable Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to target rural crime hotspots, thermal imaging equipment for Police Dog Units, and a recruitment drive for more volunteers to join Mounted Rural Patrol.

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New figures from NFU Mutual published last month revealed that the cost of rural crime was an estimated £49.5M in 2022 with the cost of rural theft rising by 22 per cent as organised crime gangs plague rural communities up and down the country.

PCC Donna Jones said: “These organised crime gangs, or OCGs, are costing communities a staggering amount of money and stripping farmers and landowners of their livelihoods.

“These criminals cannot be allowed to continue wreaking havoc, and we must come together to restore peace to our countryside communities.”

For detailed advice and support, a Rural Crime Guide can also be downloaded from the PCC’s website.