Farming leaders have urged the region's newly re-elected police commissioners to make tackling rural crime one of their top priorities.

Tim Passmore was elected as Suffolk's PCC (police and crime commissioner) for a fourth time following last week's election, while Roger Hirst retained his position as police, fire and crime commissioner for Essex.

And calls are already being made to prioritise strategies to combat rural crime which has "far-reaching consequences, impacting farmers both financially and emotionally". 

Farm machinery theft, fly-tipping, dog attacks on livestock and hare coursing continue to plague agricultural communities - and cost the UK £49.5m in 2022, according to insurer NFU Mutual’s rural crime report.

So the National Farmers' Union (NFU) is calling on its members to sign an open letter to all newly- elected commissioners, outlining the sector's recommendations on rural crime.

They include recruiting a dedicated rural crime specialist, engaging regularly with the farming community and delivering "effective response and investigation of crimes impacting farm businesses".

Other industry demands include working with farm businesses on effective crime prevention strategies, developing a strategy to tackle organised crime groups in operating in rural areas, and providing greater rural crime training for officers and control centres.

Lowestoft Journal:  NFU Suffolk deputy chairman Glenn Buckingham NFU Suffolk deputy chairman Glenn Buckingham (Image: NFU)

NFU Suffolk deputy chairman Glenn Buckingham said: “Rural crime continues to be a major issue for many farmers and members of the public in Suffolk.

“Fly-tipping, in particular, is a big problem in Suffolk at the moment.

“This is a serious nuisance for farmers and disrupts our work and impacts farmers’ ability to produce food for the nation.

“Fly-tipping blights the countryside and farms near roads often have to put up with litter being thrown from vehicles onto their land.

“We need joined up thinking between the PCC, local authorities and the farming community to tackle this and other rural crime issues in Suffolk.”

Mr Buckingham added: “We also have a new lead sergeant on rural crime in Sgt Chris Green so we look forward to working with him and welcoming both Sgt Green and Mr Passmore to the NFU tent at the Suffolk Show later this month."