DORSET’S Police and Crime Commissioner has welcomed moves to tackle the growing issue of rural crime.

Martyn Underhill says he is pleased to see the establishment of the new National Rural Crime Network, which aims to tackle rural crime more effectively across the country.

The idea stems from the work of the Rural Services Network, a not for profit organisation that sees a range of rural service providers in the public, private and voluntary sectors working together.

Mr Underhill said: “As the Commissioner for a largely rural police force in England, I am particularly keen to support this initiative.

“Crime in rural areas accounts for a large proportion of Dorset Police's demand.

“There are significant pressures on rural police forces and by coming together, we will be able to speak in a strong and united voice.

“I am particularly pleased that the network also includes other organisations dedicated to rural communities.

“In this way, we should all be able to learn from one another and work collaboratively on new ideas and solutions that will benefit our local people.”

Nick Payne, from Rural Services Network (RSN), said: “There is a common perception that rural crime is less significant than that occurring in cities and towns.

“The impact of rural crime is just as serious as it is elsewhere and it’s becoming an increasing problem as austerity bites and as police resources are stretched thinner.

“There are also strong links to serious organised gangs in relation to some classifications of rural crime, for example theft of agricultural plant and machinery and the availability of drugs.”

He added “There is good collaborative work already occurring in some localities but it is widely acknowledged that sharing of best practice is patchy and urgently needs to be improved.

“The network will ensure that is effectively coordinated and sustained. “It will also be developing strong links to academic research resources as well promoting successful techniques to encourage rural communities to become more self -resilient in these difficult times.”

The network will also provide an online resource for police forces, community safety practitioners and others to interact and share information relating to rural crime.