Rural Crime

Rural Crime is one of the 22 priorities on which residents are asked to vote every quarter.

Realistically, it would be surprising if it were to figure at the top of a quarterly survey. As Thames Valley Police says in its What is Rural Crime? web page: “Rural crime is an issue for large areas of the country, but it tends to go unreported. It can impact on insurance premiums, food prices and damage local communities. It can be hard to know whether something is a crime and whether to contact the police or another charity or organisation.”

Concern registered over Rural Crime in a Chiltern Community Forum survey, especially when supported by concrete examples in the comments section, will be taken seriously. However, the main purpose of this page is to signpost where residents can go for advice on Rural Crime prevention, to report Rural Crime and get support where needed.

What is Rural Crime?

Thames Valley Police divides Rural Crime into the following main categories:

  • Agricultural: covering working farms, farm machinery, farm buildings and smallholdings; offences include theft of equipment or fuel, damage to property and livestock worrying.
  • Equine: covering working stables and equestrian centres, and includes offences like tack theft and livestock worrying.
  • Wildlife: includes hare coursing, poaching and interfering with protected species. Visit Thames Valley Police Wildlife Crime page.
  • Heritage crime, defined as ‘any offence which harms the value of England’s heritage assets and their settings to this and future generations’. That can include offences like lead theft from churches, damage to ancient monuments and illegal metal detecting.
  • Environmental crime, covering illegal waste dumping, fly tipping, polluting watercourses and land. Many waste or environmental issues need to be reported to your local council or other agencies, though large scale dumping should be reported on 101, and hazardous waste presenting an immediate danger to the public, should be reported immediately by calling 999. Visit Thames Valley Police Environmental Crime page.

Reporting Rural Crime

Rural Crime Reporting Line

poster advertising Rural Crime Reporting LineBy ringing 0800 783 0137 or visiting www.ruralcrimereportingline.uk, farmers, rural businesses and the public can anonymously give information about crime relating to:

  • large-scale, industrial fly-tipping
  • hare coursing
  • machinery theft
  • livestock theft

Thames Valley Police’s advice for reporting crime is “If you think an offence has or is about to be committed, let us know. You can report it to us online or by calling 101. If you’re not sure it’s a crime, we’d rather hear from you and determine that ourselves.”

In instances where there is an immediate danger to the public, report immediately using 999.

Another alternative is the Rural Crime Reporting Line, run by the National Farmers Union in conjunction with Crimestoppers and supported by the Police. This national, anonymous reporting system allows offences and activity to be directed to the correct agency. Reporting can be done by calling 0800 783 0137 or by completing an online form 100% anonymously.

Getting Involved

Thames Valley Horse Watch

Thames Valley Horse Watch ScreenshotThames Valley Horse Watch connects horse owners and riders to improve security and communication. Members do not have to own a horse, the scheme welcomes everyone, whether they are an occasional rider, own a yard or just want to assist the community.

Members receive information on security, tack marking, shows, events as well as messages through the Alert system about recent crimes, details of stolen property or suspicious persons and vehicles. Horse Watch is run solely for the benefit of its members.

Chiltern Community Forum encourages residents to involve themselves, where possible and safe, to help ensure safe, resilient communities.

Rural Spotters is a scheme launched in June 2019, through which volunteers – all horse riders – engage with the rural community whilst out on their normal hacking route and assist in rural and equine crime prevention. The volunteers will report any suspicious activity, including fly tipping, unauthorised off road biking and hare coursing to the Rural Crime Reporting Line. For more information, visit our news post on Rural Spotters.

The Rural Spotters scheme builds on the work of the Thames Valley Horse Watch network which brings local horse owners, riders and equestrian workers together with their local police team.

Read an account published by The National Rural Crime Network, in its ‘Best Practice’ section, of the work of the Thames Valley Police Rural Crime Partnership.

Further Useful Links

Thames Valley Police: Rural Crime Prevention – includes advice on Equipment and tool security, Estate and building security, Boundaries, Fire prevention, Illegal occupation, Diesel theft, Livestock theft, Tack security, Chemical storage.
National Rural Crime Network: championing a better understanding of crime in rural areas, and new, effective ways to help to keep rural communities safe.
National Rural Crime Survey 2018
Thames Valley Police: What you can do about wildlife crime
UK National Wildlife Crime Unit