PCC Ron Hogg
- Article written for the Teesdale Mercury, published 10 February 2016 -
I have been spending a lot of time in the more rural parts of County Durham and Darlington recently. I have enjoyed talking to local people from different walks of life at three Rural Crime Forums, and I have been very interested to hear what they have told me about crime and anti-social behaviour in Teesdale, Weardale and the rural areas around Darlington.
Based on these conversations I am going to develop a rural crime strategy over the next few weeks, which will set out how the Police can work with local people to make a real difference.
Before hosting the Forums, I took the opportunity to look at the crime figures. They show that the recorded crime rate in our rural areas is lower than that for the Durham Constabulary area as a whole. I hope that these lower levels of reported crime do not indicate that people in rural areas are less likely to report incidents to the Police. I am keen that people in remote areas feel that when they report a crime, it is treated with the same importance as reported crime in towns.
I was aware that the nature of crime and anti-social behaviour is different in rural areas to our major towns, and talking to local people has brought home to me how it can affect them. There are real concerns about heavy traffic and speeding, especially by large vehicles on narrow rural roads. People have also identified fly-tipping as an issue, and for farmers there are concerns about poaching and the loss of livestock. Every lamb which is lost is worth over £100, for example: a significant cost to a farming business.
I am looking into purchasing for the Constabulary, average speed cameras with the technology to recognise number plates. I would intend these be placed on stretches of road where the local community tell me there is a problem with speeding, like villages with main roads running through them. I know average speed cameras seriously deter motorists from speeding, and increase the safety of local communities.
In Weardale I am pleased that the first three community safety responders are already in post. They are able to undertake policing, fire & rescue and ambulance service response activities from their base within the police station in Stanhope. Their flexibility and their local knowledge can provide an excellent service in remote areas and I expect further community safety responders to come into operation shortly.
I also salute the work of Neighbourhood Watch and Farmwatch, which are providing real intelligence to the Police to help reduce crime. Then there is Keep in the Know, a scheme where local people can exchange e-mail alerts about crime and crime prevention with the Police and others. The role of communities in notifying the Police of incidents is hugely important, and I strongly encourage local people to phone 101 or 999 when they become aware of matters which need to be reported. The call-handlers at Police HQ also need to be familiar with rural issues and able to respond sympathetically.
If you came along to one of my Rural Crime Forums recently, I would like to thank you for attending. I can assure you that what you have told me will make a difference.
Police and Crime Commissioner
County Durham and Darlington
Posted on Wednesday 10th February 2016