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Rural and Environmental Crime

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What is Rural Crime?

Rural Crime includes four categories according to North Wales Police – Agricultural, Equine, Wildlife and Heritage. Plus, Environmental Crime covers illegal waste dumping, fly tipping, polluting watercourses and land, and arson, such as deliberate grass fires (see also Environmental ASB).

Rural theft cost the UK an estimated £43.3m in 2020, a decrease of 20% on the previous year. The reduction in the cost of rural theft is welcome news but last year was no ordinary year. Lockdown helped to lock criminals out of the countryside, and increased security on farms and rural policing played a role in the reduction.” NFU Rural Crime Report 2021

The Welsh Government have appointed the first all-Wales Wildlife and Rural Crime Coordinator in 2021. The aim is to ensure a joined-up approach with Wales’ police forces and key partner agencies to reduce crime and its impact on rural communities, livestock and wildlife across Wales.

One Gang - Many Rural Crimes

Agricultural crime covers working farms and smallholdings, their buildings and machinery. Offences include theft of equipment or fuel, damage to property and livestock worrying and theft. 

Equine crime covers working stables and equestrian centres and includes offences like tack theft and livestock worrying.

Wildlife crime includes hare coursing, poaching, badger baiting and interfering with protected species, such as bats. Find out more from Dyfed Powys Police.

Heritage crime is defined as “any offence which harms the value of England’s and Wales’ heritage assets and their settings to this and future generations and includes all offences involving cultural property”. This includes theft of lead from churches, damage to ancient monuments and illegal metal detecting.

Hitting a wild animal deliberately is an offence under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act. If you hit and kill a wild animal, you must leave it safely by the roadside and notify the local council so they can remove the remains. Some wild animals are protected, and it is an offence to possess one, dead or alive.

For more legal information, read the Crown Prosecution Service guidance on Wildlife, Rural and Heritage Crime.

  • Historic England 

E-learning module for heritage crime. Although aimed at police officers, it provides a lot of information on heritage crime in an urban setting relevant for community safety partners. 

  • Crimestoppers

Rural crime campaign

Useful Links

North Wales Police – Rural crime prevention for comprehensive rural crime prevention and security advice

Visit the Website

North Wales Police – Heavy machinery theft prevention for specific advice around heavy machinery.

Visit the Website

Best practice – National Rural Crime Network

Visit the Website

Bird Law | Wild Birds and the Law – The RSPB

Visit the Website

CESAR Scheme – official equipment and registration scheme for construction and agriculture

Visit the Website

Datatag – the forensic marking system supported by the police

Visit the Website

Heritage Crime | Historic England and Advice and Guidance | Cadw

Visit the Website

Read the Guidance

Immobilise  -The National Property Register

Visit the Website

Rural Crime

Visit the Website

Rural crime | Neighbourhood Watch Network

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Secured By Design (SBD) – for information about property security design.

Visit the Website

Help and Support

For victims, families and concerned people

If you think a rural crime has or is about to be committed, contact the Police on 101, or online depending on your region within Wales – South Wales Police, Dyfed Powys Police, Gwent Police or North Wales Police, or via Crimestoppers if you’d like to report anonymously. In an emergency, dial 999.

North Wales Police provides a helpful overview of what to do if you think a wildlife crime has occurred.

To report animal cruelty, neglect or abuse, you can go to the RSPCA’s website or call them on 0300 1234 999 (lines open 24 hours a day).

To report Environmental Crime – including waste or environmental issues, such as fly tipping – contact your local council or other agencies (see Directory). You can also report information about Environmental Crime to Natural Resources Wales. 

Information about large scale dumping or hazardous waste can be reported to the Police on 101, online depending on your region within Wales – South Wales Police, Dyfed Powys Police, Gwent Police or North Wales Police, or via Crimestoppers if you’d like to report anonymously.

You may wish to consider joining your local Farm Watch or other police supported initiatives such as OWL – Online Watch Link.