Fly-tipping, hare coursing, and sheep worrying - three rural crimes which are among the offences tackled in a new book designed to help tackle countryside crime.
The Rural Crime Handbook has been put together by Bedfordshire Police’s crime reduction officer with contributions from a number of partners, including the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the Environment Agency, the Home Office, and local farmers.
It contains advice on crimes which affect Bedfordshire’s rural communities.
It was launched at a special event at the Rufus Centre in Flitwick on Thursday (October 10) as part of the Rural Crime Week of Action.
Police and crime commissioner Kathryn Holloway said: "Our rural crime team, Op Sentinel Rural, has chalked up very significant successes in the past year. Targeted operations concerning cars and vans that haven’t been appropriately insured, taxed or which are without MOTs, have deprived those involved in criminality in the countryside of the use of the road.
"We’ve worked with neighbouring forces and have focused on matters such as hare coursing together to prevent damage to crops and the illegal betting of tens of thousands of pounds on the outcomes."
Rural businesses are often seen as a soft target by thieves for a number of reasons. Many farms, equestrian premises and industrial estates are remote, spread over a large area of land, unoccupied overnight, and contain plant and materials of high value.
Deputy Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst said: “Rural crime can be complex and challenging to investigate. It isn't just low level offences, as a range of serious and organised crime can take place in our rural areas, so it's important we engage and work closely with our partners and communities.
“This handbook is an excellent example of the importance of such partnership working.”
Oliver Rubinstein, from the NFU, said: “Rural crime is an enormous issue for farmers in Bedfordshire and nationally is estimated to have cost the UK £50million last year.
"Unfortunately many farmers have already had to take quite dramatic steps to limit their vulnerability, such as blocking off field entrances and digging ditches, however, this handbook is a valuable resource that we can share with members to help them make sure they’ve taken all the necessary steps.”