Understanding Rural Crime
The Rural context
Rural England and Wales is a landscape of differing communities,
many in transition and each with its own pattern of social and
Whatever their particular form and the forces acting upon them,
rural areas are distinctive in broad cultural terms and these
distinctions are relevant to an understanding of tackling rural
Rural communities tend to be small scale and close knit.
People know each other and patterns of interaction tend to be
local and informal.
Rural communities have embraced traditions of mutual help and
self-reliance, supportive of each other and sometimes suspicious
Local economies are small scale and rural poverty is often
hidden beneath the picture post card veneer of prosperity.
Geographical isolation and limited access to services is
often associated with slow rates of social change and limited
Whilst formal communications may be slow, local information
is rapidly shared and whilst criminality is difficult to hide,
it is also more likely to be hidden from casual view.
The Impact of Technology on Policing
New technical developments will help all police forces improve
response times and can bring special benefit to rural areas
The Public Safety Radio Communication Project, for example, will
reduce the amount of time officers spend at police stations by
providing them with direct mobile text and message facilities and
links to the telephone network from cars and handsets. This will in
turn increase the amount of time which officers can spend on patrol
or dealing with crime. Rural areas will benefit particularly since
officers may patrol many miles from police stations.
Access to databases via the new facility will provide officers
with information which will enable them to deal more effectively
with incidents (for instance by telling them if there is an arrest
warrant extant or if someone is likely to be armed).
The ability to work in talk groups of several officers will
enable them to co-ordinate activities more effectively without
direction from the control room many miles away.
Other technological improvements include:
£4 million in capital in the current financial year for
a speedier reaction to calls and dispatch of resources
through the next generation Command and Control computer system;
a national Geographic Information System to improve the
speedy location of incidents.
The Police Scientific Development Branch recently surveyed all
forces about new technologies.
26 Forces responded and made the following key points:
The inability of current technologies to operate effectively
in remote areas with poor communications and without mains
The lack of technological training
The difficulty of tracing stolen property, in particular farm
machinery and livestock.
The loss of time in travelling to and from police stations
for information/paper-work and the need for increased police
Lack of access to information and/or police services for the
public in rural areas.
Technologies currently being developed at PSDB will assist police
in rural areas
The development of alarm technology including wire-free
alarms, alarm verification systems which reduce police time
spent on false alarms in rural areas,
Property identification through tracking using
tagging/chipping and Geographic Information System technology.
Revisit the PSDB document 15/98,’Plant Security Guidance’
and encourage the use of Vehicle Recognition Numbers and other
Long range transmission systems for CCTV and alarms using
Touch-screen development to allow two-way information flow,
linked possibly to Tourist Information and other touch-screen
locations in libraries and post offices.
Further details from Police Scientific Development
Types of rural areas
Rural communities can be classified in a number of different
ways, some of them completely self-contained.
The British Crime Survey uses ACORN - A Classification of
Residential Neighbourhoods - categorisation to identify types of
ACORN classifies households according to the demographic,
employment and housing characteristics of the surrounding
neighbourhood, as measured by the 1991 Census. Rural areas are those
falling in the ACORN types listed below:
Wealthy suburbs, large detached houses
Villages with wealthy commuters
Mature, affluent home owning areas
Affluent suburbs, older families
Mature, well off suburbs
Agricultural villages, home based workers
Holiday retreats, older people, home based workers
Home owning areas, well-off older residents
Private flats, elderly people
Rural areas, mixed occupations
ACORN was developed by CACI Ltd. Further details can be found at www.datadepot.co.uk.
The report ‘NOTHING EVER HAPPENS AROUND HERE’ published by
the National Youth Agency identified five types of rural location;
Remote rural areas: - Dominated by traditional values of
agrarian society, such areas are characterised by single
dwellings, isolated farms and scattered settlements.
Villages: - often self-designating, those communities may be
located close to urban areas and may be expanding or contracting
as economic and social units. Survival and development is often
associated with the existence of a good transport infra
structure and easy access to employment opportunities.
Market Towns: - often identified by an historic charter and
their Importance as the hub of the local social and economic
Collapsed industrial areas; experiencing severe economic
decline, for example former coalmining areas.
Coastal areas and hinterland: - may be separated into
locations that are visited and location that are less visited.
Further details from; Antony Lawton, Head of Policy, National
Youth Agency. Tel 0116 285 3700 or visit their web site at; www.nya.org.uk