More than two thirds of residents who live in Cheshire’s rural areas think police are doing a good job keeping their communities safe.
Out of 738 Cheshire residents who completed a rural crime survey run by Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner, 67 per cent said they were satisfied or very satisfied with police in their local area.
That’s in contrast to the national picture with just a third of residents (27 per cent) in England and Wales stating they thought their local police force were doing a good job when asked as part of the recent National Rural Crime Survey.
David Keane and Cheshire Constabulary launched their local rural and wildlife crime survey earlier this year to complement the results of the national survey, with both surveys being used to help shape how police in Cheshire tackle rural and wildlife crime in the future.
The commissioner said: “Cheshire is an overwhelming rural county; 65 per cent of the county is classed as ‘rural’ so it’s incredibly important for police to have a good understanding of the issues which affect rural communities.
“I’m pleased to see that residents living in our rural communities in Cheshire have a more positive view of the police than those living in other rural communities nationally and it’s encouraging to see that 88 per cent of respondents stated they feel safe where the live.
“While the results of our local survey show a better picture of how rural crime is dealt with in Cheshire than in England and Wales as a whole, there are still some key issues that have come out of the survey which police in Cheshire need to address.”
Although only 20 per cent of respondents said they had been a victim of rural or wildlife crime in the last three years, only 21 per cent had reported it to the police.
“We need to do more to increase the public’s confidence of reporting crime to the police and raise awareness of initiatives being run by police to tackle crime in rural areas.
“Over the past few years police have put in place a number of schemes to specifically tackle rural issues including rural watch, horse watch and shield however, more than three quarters of respondents to the survey said they were not aware of these initiatives”, added David.
In terms of the types of crimes carried out in rural areas burglary, speeding and criminal damage dominated the list of concerns with these being the top three priority areas that residents completing the survey said police should focus on in the future.
The results of the survey will be used by the commissioner and the constabulary to develop a new rural crime policing plan for Cheshire which outlines the priorities for rural officers from now until 2021.
“We are in the process of drafting a new rural crime plan which will be heavily influenced by the views of local residents who completed the survey.
“I look forward to presenting a draft of the policing plan to rural communities in the autumn to ensure our plan to tackle rural and wildlife crime meets the needs of residents across the county”, David concluded.
Chief inspector Simon Meegan, the force lead for rural and wildlife crime, added: “We have trained PCSOs and local officers in rural and wildlife crime and have 26 designated rural PCSOs for these communities.
“We will be running a number of events to engage with and visit our rural communities over the forthcoming months, as it’s really important that those living in more isolated areas know their local officer and have the confidence to report rural crime.”
The events on rural crime for local people to have their say on the draft plan will be held across the county in October. Further details of these events will be released in due course.