Lincolnshire police must take rural crime seriously

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Autumn slips into winter. Potatoes were safely gathered in October and sugar beet harvest and delivery to the factory has been progressing well. Wheat drilling is nearly complete and preparations for next year’s crops continue, writes Stafford Proctor.

Boston National Farmers Union (NFU) recently met with the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Marc Jones, and two Lincolnshire police officers. Many farmers are at their wits’ end with hare coursers, generally criminals from outside the county. They drive across fields and property causing damage, they investigate opportunities for theft and when challenged respond with threatening and abusive behaviour.

Lincolnshire police are underfunded with the lowest level of funding per head of population across every county in the UK. Politically as a county we should fight for fairer treatment. Courts and magistrates need to support the rural economy and police by handing down sentences that provide a sufficient deterrent. Criminals and their slick barristers seem to be able to choose at which court the case is heard and even to which law they plead guilty. A £200 fine for trespass might get a quick conviction for hard pressed courts, but it is no deterrent to these criminal gangs. Lincolnshire police, and the new Chief Constable, must take this crime seriously.

The meeting produced a list for Marc Jones of simple police operational failures, which if corrected would dramatically improve the situation. Members of the rural community are the greatest asset to help the police stop this crime. Police need systems in place that can help us to help them.