In October 2014 the Panel produced its first scrutiny report which focussed upon ‘Rural Crime’, and considered the actions of the then Commissioner in his aim to reduce the gap in solved crime rates between rural and non-rural areas. Through this report the Panel found that more could be done to help inform and empower local communities to protect themselves, to raise confidence in rural community policing and to improve the partnership approach to rural crime.
The Panel’s report also discussed the variation between the perception of crime and the reality of crime, and how this had driven a disproportionate fear of crime within rural communities. A key message from the evidence received to the review was the need for visible community policing and communications to alleviate these fears.
The Panel agreed that it was timely to revisit the topic of rural crime, to consider progress made against some of the key areas discussed in the Panel’s previous report on rural crime and look to identify and discuss those of current interest.
This scrutiny found that the evidence received demonstrated that many of the concerns which were important to rural communities of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight at the time of the Panel’s previous scrutiny in 2014 were still relevant today. The evidence also raised a number of new areas of concern, which have risen to the fore since the publication of the Panel’s last report, including concerns over the effectiveness of the 101 service within rural communities.
Efforts made to combat rural crime were recognised through the report, including Hampshire Constabulary maintaining a dedicated rural crime team and the introduction of the Hampshire and IOW Rural Crime Partnership. It was further recognised that the Commissioner, and his office, had started to explore more innovate approaches to enhance engagement with rural communities and taken steps to improve the firearms application process.
In order to support the Commissioner in his commitment to keep rural communities safer the Panel has made a number of recommendations addressing the concerns raised, making suggestion upon improving the perception of policing and the approach to tackling crime within rural communities.
A letter to the Commissioner outlining, in full, the Panel’s findings and recommendations from this review is published below.