Photo courtesy of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

Rural Crime

Rural Crime - the same but different

Although rural crime rates are relatively low, recorded crime patterns in country areas are similar to crime in urban areas of the UK. However, rural crime is not simply a scaled-down version of urban crime.

What makes the difference is partly the nature of the target in rural crime - for instance plant and machinery in remote locations - partly the experience of the victim and 'extended victim community' and partly the lack of access to resources to deal with the crime and disorder.

Much of rural life is built on trust within small communities and therefore the impact of crime in many ways is greater because of the breach of trust and the impact on a large section of the community who share that communal trust.

Reassurance and Response Issues

To quote from the Commission for Rural Communities Report, "The need to focus limited resources in areas of most need means that many rural communities do not have dedicated local provision. The resulting low visibility of police and other agencies is a significant factor contributing to a sense of vulnerability and isolation in rural areas. In particular the lack of a regular, visible police presence has been highlighted as a major concern."

There is the additional issue of agencies having different boundaries and often prioritising different geographic locations and therefore being less able to provide a co-ordinated response. These are important considerations for CDRP's.

Rural Crime and Disorder Reduction - a specialism

The impact of crime and disorder and the service delivery issues identified above and the specific rural crime and disorder issues - such as theft of plant and machinery, theft of livestock, fly -tipping and weekend disorder in country towns, make the work more than just a variant of city crime reduction. Balancing these considerations, with very limited resources, makes community safety work in rural areas quite different from urban community safety work. 

So extended lines of communication between county and district crime reduction partnerships and the limited access to dedicated resources  mean that community safety practitioners have to develop this area of work as a specialism. This is in addition to the range of offence types that can be found under the crime prevention section on this site.

Advice on rural specific crime can be found on various police websites such as the Rural Policing Liaison Group and  Thames Valley Constabulary (see in Rural Crime Links below).  The anonymity of much city crime and anti social behaviour, city residents resilience to the 'background noise' of crime and disorder and the large number and rapid deployment of enforcement resources does not easily  translate into the countryside.

Further Rural Crime Links

Rural Crime Toolkit

Archived toolkit from the Home Office aimed at bringing together information on developments, research findings and promising approaches in tackling rural crime.

Rural Crime: What is the problem?

Background information about the issues surrounding and best practice and strategies for tackling rural crime.

Rural Crime Report  

Commission for Rural Communities report - an evaluation into approaches to rural crime issues including a survey of parish and town councils to learn from their experience. The reports highlights examples of good practice. Published 2006.

Strong Counties and Vibrant Rural Communities Report 

This report from the UK Rural Issues Task Group highlights key issues facing rural communities and includes an important section on crime, the fear of crime and community safety. Published 2007.

Rural Crime Prevention Advice : Thames Valley Police

Police best practice advice on rural crime prevention and reduction.

Updated May 2015