IAN Liddell-Grainger has challenged the Government to match a huge private donation to help combat rural crime.
NFU Mutual, the country’s largest agricultural insurer, says it is ploughing £430,000 into initiatives to help combat a crime wave which is affecting farmers in all parts of the country.
And now Mr Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, says the Home Office should recognise the dedication and commitment behind the move by investing a similar sum.
The NFU Mutual funding will particularly target rural theft, which cost the farming community £43 million last year. It plans a number of initiatives to help farmers better protect themselves and is establishing a dedicated agricultural vehicle crime unit following its success in recovering stolen machinery from abroad.
Mr Liddell-Grainger has constantly held up an overall reduction in rural policing as one of the factors behind growing crime rates in the countryside and says the Home Office now has a chance to reinforce the efforts of those attempting to reverse them.
He said the donation from NFU Mutual was inspirational.
“It may well be born out of frustration that despite increasing crime figures rural policing resources continue to be depleted, and a sense that unless the company helps farmers no-one else is going to,” he said.
“But I think this gesture demonstrates very clearly to the Home Office that policing policies are now failing those who live and work in the countryside to a completely unacceptable degree.
“I now look to the Home Secretary to start taking this issue seriously and finally to start addressing it in a meaningful and practical way.”