With new survey results showing that over the last 12 months one in three farmers has been a victim of crime, the NFU said it’s crucial that candidates in the forthcoming Police & Crime Commissioner elections commit to prioritise rural crime as a strategic objective.

The survey, carried out by the NFU with nearly 2,000 farmers across the country, highlighted the extent to which rural areas are being actively targeted by criminals.

It also focused on the cost of crime to farm businesses, how often crimes are reported and how farmers feel about the police response as well as how much farmers are spending on crime prevention.

Nationally farmers reported facing average losses of £4,400 as a result of rural crime and nearly 60 per cent of respondents said they believed crime levels were increasing.

Reporting levels were good, with 60 per cent saying they reported the most recent incident to the police. But, of those that failed to do so, three out of five said it was because no police response was expected. While more than half of respondents felt that insufficient police resource was devoted to tackling rural crime, a slight majority (53 per cent) felt that the police had taken sufficient action when they reported the most recent crime.

“The impact of crime on farms across our patch is the most common problem farmers raise with us time after time,” said NFU North East Regional Director, Adam Bedford. “Many respondents said they are being targeted frequently with 13 per cent of Yorkshire victims and nine per cent of North-East victims being subjected to more than 10 incidents in the last year alone.

"While it’s true that the police are beginning to recognise the impact of rural crime on individuals, families and small communities, more needs to be done to ensure adequate resourcing and joined-up local priorities – particularly in those large rural areas policed by primarily urban forces.”