The cost of rural crime has risen more than 10% in Dorset, according to the National Farmers’ Union, but has dropped by 14% in Hampshire and 18% in Wiltshire.

The NFU Mutual annual Rural Crime Report is based on national crime statistics: in Dorset, rural crime cost the county £605,000 in 2016, compared with £550,000 the year before.

The NFU is calling on the government to form a cross-departmental rural crime task force to ensure there is a combined response to target cross-border criminals.

An NFU spokesman said: “The perpetrators of rural crime often come from urban areas and may have links to international networks.”

The NFU is also calling for a review of criminal penalties so that they truly reflect the cost and impact that rural crime is having on farmers.

Rural crime is very different from urban crime and includes theft of major equipment, livestock worrying, hare coursing, poaching, heritage crime, arson and vandalism.

In September, the rise in hare coursing comes  when fields are clear and it involves dogs being used to kill the animals for entertainment and gambling. It is associated with large gangs descending on properties causing criminal damage and wildlife crime.

A spokesman said: “The NFU calls for more funding on research to understand the true nature of rural crime and how it could be linked to organised criminal networks.”

Pin It on Pinterest