The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has nearly 1,000 members in Kent and 35,000 across the country. Running a range of countryside based businesses from traditional farming and forestry, to a wide range of other rural activities â€“ members are at the forefront of rural crime.
Sadly, many farmers and landowners accept crime as an inevitable cost and consequence of living in the countryside, and while they complain, live on the assumption that nothing will be done. Sadly, they do not report a range of petty crime that continually assaults and undermines their freedom and businesses.
In the area of Kent where I am based, we have problems of oil theft, break-ins and theft from sheds and farm buildings, farm gates, electric fence units and farm machinery being stolen.
There are of course more serious crimes including the theft of heritage property, such as the 18th-century lead statues that were stolen from Godinton House in November last year.
The CLA is continually urging members to take security seriously and more importantly to report all crimes and suspicious activity. The rural police are generally helpful and supportive, but are not mind readers â€“ individuals have a responsibility to keep police, neighbours and others informed of activity that may appear to be suspicious or criminal. When this has happened, there have been some successful police operations coordinated with landowners, gamekeepers and farmers in parts of Kent.
The other persistent and unpleasant crimes in rural areas are poaching, hare coursing and the butchery of livestock. Another menace is fly tipping, not considered a crime but often carried out by those with criminal intent, possibly running a business collecting rubbish and clearing houses, but not paying the waste charges.
So keep watching, keep reporting, and contact police on ring 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.