Lockdown led to a slump in rural crimes reported to Northumbria Police
The number of quad bike thefts and other rural crimes slumped in Northumberland over the past 12 months.
According to the latest figures from Northumbria Police, all forms of vehicle offences have fallen in the force’s more remote areas, while the number of burglaries almost halved.
But bosses have also admitted the fall is likely to be largely down to the coronavirus pandemic and Government-imposed lockdowns, while promising to continue their focus on the region’s other “hidden crimes”.
A report for the Northumbria Police and Crime Panel said: “In Northumberland and rural parts of the region, we have seen some really successful operations cracking down on theft, illegal poaching and wildlife crime.
“We’ve also benefited from the support of our excellent rural policing volunteers – a real asset in the fight against rural crime.
“With things being tough during the Coronavirus pandemic, rural communities were a great concern of mine – they can feel isolated and out of help’s reach at the best of times.”
It added: “Lockdown has been a contributing factor in the crime reductions but a range of proactive investigations and prevention work has also contributed to the year’s success.”
Over the 12 months from June 2020 – 2021 there were 517 fewer ‘rural crimes’ recorded by Northumbria Police, compared to the previous year.
Burglary down from 494 in 2019/20 to 255 – a fall of 48%; All vehicle crime down from 276 offences in 2019/20 to 180 – a fall of 35%; Thefts of quad bikes down to 11, from 37 in 2019/20 – a fall of 70%.
The force claimed figures show Northumbria is among the force areas in the country least likely to be affected by rural crime, such as thefts of agricultural equipment and livestock.
But Kim McGuinness, the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has insisted she will not allow other issues, such as domestic abuse, become “hidden crimes that get forgotten about in the remote parts of our region”.
The PCC has praised initiatives like FarmWatch and Operation Checkpoint, which now has about 30 volunteers passing intelligence on to officers and giving crime prevention advice to families in the region.
The force is also planning to recruit its first ever rural engagement and wildlife officer.