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Neighbourhood Watch and Crimestoppers join forces in tackling rural crime

The two largest national crime fighting charities in the UK are joining up to tackle a growing problem of rural crime by launching a campaign which will see them work with rural communities throughout England and Wales.

The campaign was launched at the ACPO and Crimestoppers national rural crime conference, which took place on 5 March 2014 at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, and saw the two charities joined by police and businesses in trying to tackle this growing issue.

Issues that exist within rural areas include the theft of plant machinery, wildlife crime and heritage crime, with the partnering organisations determined to eliminate this problem and allow the rural communities to live in a safe environment. The campaign will focus on raising awareness of rural crime, the signs to look out for and how information can be passed to Crimestoppers anonymously. It will be the first time that both charities have worked together nationally to tackle crime directly.

Chief Executive for Crimestoppers, Mark Hallas, said: “Crime within the rural communities is a prevalent issue that should not be ignored and should instead be tackled by those who can help bring the number of incidents down. “Crimestoppers is committed to supporting those affected by rural crime and we hope that by pairing up with our partner organisations, and with the help of the public, we can start to bring those responsible to justice.”

Both organisations, the police, public and businesses, including farmers, will share information via a national website and communication system called Rural Alert, an addition to the national database and communication system Neighbourhood Alert, used by the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network.

Jim Maddan, Chairman for the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network said: “As technology advances so do criminals and we need to work together to be one step ahead. Criminals do not stop committing crime because they are travelling into another county or police force area. By adopting a national approach, boundaries disappear and information becomes more apparent. By sharing the information on what we do know about this type of crime, the public and businesses can really have an impact on helping the police to catch the small minority of people affecting many rural communities”.

Mike Douglas, Director of VISAV, the software company who has developed Rural Alert, said: "The Neighbourhood Alert system is used by 10 Police Forces as well as several Fire and Rescue Services, Resilience Forums and Local Authorities. Hundreds of thousands of people have registered for free via one of the 70 sites that use the Alert system. In the last year over 20,000 farmers have joined a Farm or Country Watch website powered by Alert.

“Rural Alert gives farmers and any rural community the opportunity to register free of charge, receive messages and report information. In active Police Force areas the service is enhanced by police interaction. This project also provides a low-cost facility for those Forces not actively using Alert to add the power of the Neighbourhood Alert system to their local farm or rural initiative".

For more information, please visit www.ourwatch.org.uk If you have any information on rural crime then please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through the Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.