NEARLY 1,500 residents and businesses in rural areas of Sussex have said the fear of crime blights their lives.
The 1,451 responses to the 2018 national rural crime survey received from the Sussex Police area was well above the number from surrounding areas.
They painted a worrying picture of life in the countryside for the thousands of farmers, landowners and rural businesses who are members of the CLA South East region.
The survey found that rural communities were ‘living on the edge – in fear of crime, unhappy with the police and feeling isolated and vulnerable’.
Half of the businesses surveyed said crime had a moderate or great impact on their lives. Six out of ten were fairly or very worried about becoming a victim of crime.
CLA South East regional director Robin Edwards said: “The results of the latest national crime survey are worrying but confirm the hard reality of how people who live and work in the countryside view rural crime. The findings chime with what we are regularly told by our members across the south east who speak of feeling isolated and that police responses to their calls and concerns are often not taken seriously enough.
“We meet regularly with police forces, and while understanding that police budgets are tight, we will continue to push for a level of investment and resource in rural policing that better reflects the seriousness of the criminal activity that takes place in the countryside.”
Three years after the first survey, the 2018 results – from more than 20,000 people – show that the perception of policing in rural communities is poor and much worse than in urban areas.
Only 27 per cent of respondents say the police force in their area is doing a good job. That was 11 per cent lower than the answer to the same question in 2015.
The survey was commissioned by the National Rural Crime Network of 30 police and crime commissioners from across the country. The most common concern was flytipping, with 57 per cent of respondents seeing evidence of the crime, with speeding second at 32 per cent.
124Ten recommendations have been produced by the network after the survey. These include the need for Chief Constables to change rural policing, putting more focus on farmers and making it easier to report crimes.