Rural crime is becoming more violent, warns MP for South Suffolk
The nature of rural crime has dramatically changed, with increasingly more violent incidents occurring across the county, the MP for South Suffolk has warned.
James Cartlidge shared his concerns during a meeting in Lavenham on Friday, which was attended by dozens of farmers, most of whom have been victims of rural crime.
“I know people are frustrated,” he said. “I have been aware for some time that there is a real problem.
“There’s been a real change in the nature of crime in recent months; they’re becoming more aggressive, more violent and there are more incidents.”
Mr Cartlidge provided assurances that the fight on rural crime would be better financed after it was announced that Suffolk Constabulary will receive £3 million in funding, with a further investment of £9 million, which has been set out in the police funding settlement.
Mr Cartlidge highlighted the importance of making police funding a priority, while acknowledging that, while the Conservatives in his own party had made significant spending cuts, it had been essential after the Government inherited the largest budget deficit since the Second World War.
“As a Government, we cannot allow the country to go bankrupt, so we did have to make some difficult decisions,” he said, adding that the recent announcement by the Home Office will see the largest increase in police funding since 2010.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner, said he was sympathetic with the farming community over issues with rural crime.
“With my farming background and having been a native of Suffolk for 59 years, I completely understand the feeling of isolation and remoteness, and the concern that you feel collectively that you’re not getting your fair share of police resources,” he said.
Mr Passmore explained that if he used his discretionary power from the Home Office to increase the police precept by a maximum of £2 a month next year, a significant amount of funding could be generated to tackle rural crime.
He warned that the decision, however, would not be taken lightly.
“I’m aware of people who are, perhaps, not so well off as others, and that it is a painful increase,” he said.
Hare coursing has become a growing concern in the county, which Suffolk Police Chief Constable Gareth Wilson highlighted often involved threats of violence.
“We are absolutely aware of that, which is why it’s genuinely an issue we want to deal with,” he said.
Mr Passmore criticised the sentences given to perpetrators, suggesting that stricter punishments should be imposed.
He said: “Some of the sentences that are handed down are quite pathetic.”