30 October 2014

Fighting Rural Crime

The Kent Rural Crime Conference took place on 29th October at the Kent Police Training College in Maidstone.  Over 100 members of the rural community attended the event to hear how Kent Police are going to be tackling rural crime in the county.  The welcome was given by Ann Barnes, Police & Crime Commissioner for the county.  The Conference was a joint venture between Kent Police and CRAG (Crime Rural Advisory Group), a group of organisations and individuals who live and manage the countryside.  This group is a vital link for the police who respond to crime within the countryside and Mike Bax, Chairman is also a founder member of Rural Plc (Kent).

The evening concentrated on the launch of the new Rural Task Force (RTF), a multi-skilled team which will target those who cause harm to rural communities at home and at work.  The Rural Task Force policing objectives include, burglary, theft, anti-social behaviour, vehicle crime, fly-tipping, diesel theft, scrap metal theft, firearms security, conservation and endangered species and wildlife crime.  The team will also be pro-active in regards to hare coursing and poaching, equine crime, theft of agricultural equipment, livestock theft, heritage crime and arson.

According to a recent article by Robin Edwards, CLA Director South East, the cost of rural crime in Kent is £1.8 million although he went on to point out that when you factor in ongoing expenses such as staff time and repairs – unseen costs – the actual cost of rural crime is far higher.  This was a point that Mike Bax raised during his presentation at the Conference highlighting the real cost of crime for those living and working in rural areas.

The Conference delegates were introduced to the senior police team who explained the Kent Police Strategy and Chief Constable Alan Pughsley assured the room that Kent Police were putting local policing and victim focus at the heart of the new strategy.

Peter Rolington from CRAG presented a new initiative that the group were developing. County Eye, an iphone and android app that people will be able to download free and use to report information about incidents in rural areas.  The app will use the phones GPS functionality to record, date, time and location with the ability to upload photos, choose the type of incident from a simple drop down and then add a brief description.

The system will use 3G to upload the information to a central database.  The information will be stored if interent is not available and sent as soon as the phone has a connection.  This system will not replace the current 999 and 101 service but will be useful to detect patterns of incidents such as hare coursing, fly tipping and damage to property.

The information will be sent to a central point manned by volunteers who will also be responsible for updating users on incidents within their local area.  One of the concerns from the conference was a better level of communication, CRAG believe that County Eye will be a useful tool for not only the farming community but everyone who lives in rural areas.

To register interest in the app, which will be tested in December and available to download in the New Year visit http://www.countryeye.co.uk/

Rural Matters is a magazine for residents and businesses to download the Summer 2014 issue click here