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The BBC's Rupert Carey
"So home owners know how far they can go in defending their property"
 real 28k

Gillian Shepherd MP, Norfolk South West
"The number of new officers will be totally inadequate"
 real 28k

Mark Wilson, Norfolk Police Authority
"Any money would be extremely welcome"
 real 28k

Monday, 24 April, 2000, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
More rural police demanded

Campaigners want more bobbies in the countryside
The Home Office is under growing pressure to employ more rural police officers in the wake of last week's jailing of a farmer over a burglar's death.

The pressure has come from Conservative MPs and a local police chief, amid continued controversy surrounding Norfolk farmer Tony Martin's life sentence for murder.

Jim Wilson, chairman of Norfolk Police Authority, is also pressing for a clarification of the law on self defence to put householders' minds at rest.

He thinks police resources are tightly stretched and believes the force "sorely needs" extra officers which have been pledged by ministers.

Martin, of Bleak House, Emneth Hungate, near Emneth, Norfolk, was found guilty of murdering Fred Barras, 16, of Newark, Notts, during a break-in at his home.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of murder by a 10 - 2 majority at Norwich Crown Court.

Rise in vigilantes

On Monday four Tory ex-ministers issued a statement insisting extra patrols may not be enough counter what is seen as a rising tide of crime in the countryside and warning that reduced public confidence in the police may prompt a rise in vigilantism.

MPs Gillian Shephard, John McGregor, David Prior and Keith Simpson said in a joint statement: "Many are saying that, like Tony Martin, they too would have defended themselves if the police were unable to help them."

"The possibility of a breakdown in law and order in our countryside is real. Action is needed now."

Gillian Shephard represents Norfolk South West, the constituency of Tony Martin, who is appealing against his conviction for murdering a teenage burglar.

The renewed concerns over rural policing come despite an announcement of extra government funding likely to run into tens of millions.

The cash follows a Home Office study last year into the problems of population density and policing, according to reports.



Thieves are travelling further afield
The move is expected to be set out in the Treasury spending review in July.

A delegation from rural police services met Charles Clarke, the police minister and MP for a Norfolk constituency, over how to fund forces in sparsely populated areas, according to The Times.

Crime research

He was reported by the Guardian to have conceded the argument for further cash for rural police forces, saying independent research commissioned by the Home Office was "well made and widely accepted".

That research, by ORH Ltd, said officer numbers needed for some incidents in rural areas were three times more than those needed by urban forces.



Some farmers have lost confidence in the police
Mr Clarke has also said that the report's findings have wide support among ministers.

The extra cash would help police staff more visible rural policing policies.

Police forces likely to benefit from a spending increase for their "sparcity factor" include Devon and Cornwall and Norfolk.

Meanwhile, claims that jurors in Mr Martin's murder trial may have been intimidated are to be investigated by Norwich Crown Court and the farmer's own legal team.

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19 Apr 00 | UK
Crime in the countryside
23 Apr 00 | UK
Jailed farmer to appeal
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