Suffolk is one of Englandâ€™s most rural, beautiful counties and the economy is very reliant on agriculture, its related food and drink industries, and tourism, which is currently worth over Â£1.8 billion per year.
Having an efficient and effective Constabulary is absolutely critical for keeping business safe and secure and enhancing the countyâ€™s reputation as an excellent place in which to live, work, travel and invest â€“ the strap line of our Police and Crime Plan.
We are very fortunate that Suffolk is a low crime area and we need to keep it that way. Combating rural crime is a key objective in my Suffolk Police and Crime Plan, which is the plan that the Constabulary follow to police the county.
This does present some challenges, so I have released extra funds to set up two dedicated rural crime teams that are also well equipped with a new land Rover Discovery. We also are very proud of our rural Special Constabulary team, many of whom have farming backgrounds and totally understand the rural way of life and have excellent local knowledge. We were also delighted to receive a large grant from the Home Office to invest in Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), which will now be deployed in the rural areas and not just on major trunk roads. This helps to detect criminals and convict them, thus reducing crime.
We are also hoping to establish a mounted section of Specials and have a brand new capability to help the rural maritime economy by working and financially supporting the volunteers from the Felixstowe Coast and Rescue Service. As commissioner, I was elected with a mandate to ensure the rural economy received its fair share of Constabulary resources. During the first year of office I am very pleased to report a significant reduction of over 30% on illegal hare coursing. There have been extensive initiatives to improve farm security via Farmwatch. Theft of copper cables and other metal theft has also reduced significantly. We vigorously uphold the rights of people to hunt and shoot legally.
Sadly there are still problems that have to be confronted such as fly tipping, livestock rustling, heating oil and other fuel thefts and wildlife crime. There is also concern about an increase in theft of marine engines, some of which are worth several thousand pounds. By working together we can reduce levels of rural crime and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice and convicted â€“ hopefully with a suitably robust sentence.
The message is clear, we are looking after Suffolkâ€™s rural economy and itâ€™s a fantastic place to live, work, travel and invest. But if you are a criminal you are not welcome and the Constabulary is gearing up to make would be criminals have a very uncomfortable time.