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The BBC's Paul Anstiss
"The report could just be the tip of the iceberg"
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Home Office Minister Barbara Roche
"Police have got to work with local authorities"
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Monday, 14 August, 2000, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Cameras 'increase rural crime'
Tony Martin
Tony Martin's case highlighted rural crime
Closed-circuit television cameras in town centres have led to a sharp rise in crimes in villages and the countryside, an insurance company has claimed.

Thefts and property damage in rural areas have risen by a third in the first quarter of 2000, according to figures from NFU Mutual, one of the largest insurance companies used by farmers.

Criminals are turning away from high security areas

Nick Bond, NFU Mutual

And the company says it is because thieves now see the countryside as "easy pickings" compared to towns where security has been increased.

Spokesman Nick Bond said: "I think what's happened in the last year is that criminals are turning away from the high security areas in towns and cities to rural areas where, in the past, we haven't been so security conscious."

First evidence

The report is some of the first evidence to support claims of an increase in rural crime made by countryside campaigners who have been calling for increased levels of policing.

Fred Barras
16-year-old Fred Barras was murdered by Martin
It comes four months after Norfolk farmer Tony Martin was jailed for life for murdering a 16-year-old burglar who had broken into his remote farmhouse.

Martin's case sparked a widespread debate about rural crime and policing, and also about how far it was permissible to go in defending one's property.

Official crime statistics do not offer a breakdown of the figures to show how crime in rural areas compares with that in towns and cities.

New officers

Home Office minister Barbara Roche said 4,000 extra police officers, announced as part of last month's comprehensive spending review, would address "sparcity" of police in rural areas.

She added that it was not just a question of police numbers, though.

"Police have got to work together with local authorities and local organisations to improve security," she said.

There had been an increase in bids for funding from villages for their own CCTV schemes, she said.

But Conservative junior home affairs spokesman John Bercow said he feared that ministers who represented urban areas were "indifferent and oblivious to the scale of criminality" in rural areas.

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20 Apr 00 | UK
Spotlight on rural crime
24 Apr 00 | UK
More rural police demanded
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