Work is already underway in Dorset to tackle two key concerns highlighted amongst rural communities by a national survey. Respondents to the 2018 National Crime Survey identified fly-tipping and speeding as the crime types they were most concerned about.
Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill is a member of the National Rural Crime Network who commissioned the survey and is the national lead for fly-tipping. He said: “We have beautiful countryside right on our doorstep but it isn’t just attractive to us, it is also attractive to criminals.
“Fly-tipping blights our rural landscape and has a detrimental impact on the environment as well as generally being an eyesore.
“Fly-tipping is a complex issue and requires a multi-agency approach. The Problem Solving Forum I recently held on the issue brought together partners and agencies with Dorset Police to discuss the problem and a partnership action plan is now in place to tackle it.”
According to the survey, the percentage of Dorset respondents who thought speeding was a problem has reduced by over 30% since the last national rural crime survey in 2015. This is a greater reduction than was seen nationally where the figure has come down by only 21% over the same period.
Martyn Underhill continued: “For a small force, Dorset Police is already punching well above its weight in tackling driving related offences. It’s well known No Excuse team has had many successes in tackling the ‘fatal five’ driving offences in our county, of which speeding is one. The dedicated road safety team is even being replicated in other forces.
“The Force also works closely with community speedwatch groups and funds various initiatives to educate drivers from all backgrounds about the dangers of speeding.
“Road safety is an area Dorset Police has focused on and the work it is doing is making a difference. But 30% of Dorset respondents still feel that speeding is a problem so we cannot be complacent.”
Dorset Police has had a Rural Crime Team since 2016 as a result of one of the police and crime commissioner’s election pledges. The team is dedicated to tackling rural crime and issues, with a focus on crime prevention. They have trained fellow officers, call handlers and radio operators to ensure that the Force is dealing with reports of rural crime consistently and effectively.
According to the survey approximately half (47%) of all Dorset respondents were aware of the specialist Rural Crime Team, compared to just 32% of respondents nationally who were of aware of their local rural crime teams.
Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “Almost half of Dorset’s residents live in rural areas and it is important that they are engaged and their voices are heard. Having met with a number of farmers, rural business owners and residents on my patrol visit with the Rural Crime Team earlier this year, it is clear that progress has been made in reducing the fear of rural crime in Dorset.
“The results of the survey also confirm what we already suspected – that rural crime is massively under-reported. We want to encourage people living and/or working in rural Dorset to report crime. There seems to be a culture of not reporting crime in some rural areas and this is something the Rural Crime Team is trying to address.
“I am pleased the percentage in Dorset of people living in rural areas not reporting crime is lower (28%) than the national figure (36%). Police cannot tackle crime if they are not made aware that it is happening in the first place. Similarly, intelligence is needed to help bring offenders to justice. It is therefore vital that the public come forward with information and report crime to help the police help victims.”
The National Rural Crime Survey received over 20,000 responses with more than 600 responses coming from Dorset residents.
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PCC Communications (Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Communications and Engagement, Dorset)