Fly tipping on farm

Crime rising on Surrey farms


Surrey farmers have called for police to take rural crime ‘seriously’ as it pledges to crackdown on rising incidents. The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) have welcomed Surrey Police’s commitment to tackle rural crime, but said the farming communities need to see results. 

Harriet Henrick, NFU County Adviser for Surrey, said farmers need “better protection” from police. She said: “Our members need reassurance that when crimes are reported they will be taken seriously and investigated.”

Attacks on sheep, thefts, suspected arson on barns and fly-tipping are some of the many serious incidents Surrey farmers have been victim to in recent months. 

Farmers say rural crimes are taking an expensive toll, costing individual businesses thousands of pounds, causing severe animal suffering, and impacting on their ability to feed the nation.

The cost of rural crime in the South East was estimated at £9.3m in 2022, an increase by nearly a quarter from 2021, the NFU said. The South East made up around 18.7 per cent of the total cost of rural crime in the UK in 2022, at  £49.5m. 

Members of the union want to see clear targets, priorities and objectives in preventing rural crime- with both long-term and short-term solutions. 

Superintendent Michael Hodder of Surrey Police admitted rural crime is an area where “even more work can be done” to support farming communities. Key initiatives for cracking down on rural crime focus on collaborating and engaging with farmers and landowners to understand the challenges they are facing and how the force can support them in policing.

Meetings between the NFU and Surrey Police have taken place with the aim of giving farmers greater protection; Surrey Police have also promised to visit every NFU member in the county as part of its efforts to tackle rural crime. Superintendent Hodder added: “We will investigate every report of rural crime, and will work closely with victims so they know what they can expect from us, what we need from them, and how we can work together to reduce rural crime across the county.

“We want everyone to feel safe in Surrey, and so my main ask would be that anyone who is the victim of rural crime reports it to us, so that we can continue to build an accurate picture of this crime across the county.”

Photo: Credit: National Farmers’ Union

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