First-ever Wales-specific wildlife and rural crime strategy launched
The first Wales strategy to tackle wildlife and rural crime has been launched that will target priority areas which are specific to the country’s needs.
Rural theft alone was valued to cost £1.3 million in 2021. Wildlife and rural crime includes theft of agricultural equipment, livestock offences and the destruction of wildlife and their habitats and the Welsh government says the joint strategy with Wales’ four police forces “will be key in the fight against such offences”.
It says a “coordinated and strategic approach” will be central to the success of the strategy.
Dyfed-Powys Police Chief Constable Dr Richard Lewis said it was a “significant and holistic strategy” that aims to improve rural policing across Wales as well as “address the unique challenges faced within our rural communities”.
In 2021, Rob Taylor was appointed Wales’ Rural and Wildlife Crime Coordinator, the first role of its kind in the UK, and he will lead on facilitating the strategy.
He said: “Rural and wildlife crime can have a devastating impact, affecting rural communities, farmers, wildlife as well as habitats and our heritage.
“The launch of this first ever made-in-Wales strategy to integrate rural and wildlife crime, will be vital in bringing Welsh government, police forces and partners together alongside my role as coordinator to tackle such offences.”
Among the objectives of the first All Wales Wildlife and Rural Crime Strategy, launched at the Royal Welsh Showground on Thursday (April 27), are:
- Working in partnership to reduce crime and protect rural communities and wildlife;
- Developing effective networks to share ideas, best practice and resources;
- Improving the knowledge and skills needed to support victims affected by crime in rural areas, especially those most vulnerable;
- Providing training and opportunities to develop skills in a broad range of wildlife and rural crime issues, maximising use of partner agencies;
- Improving data collection and information sharing among partners and enforcement agencies; and
- Using technology and innovation to protect rural communities and wildlife.
The strategy has been tailored to Wales’ needs and will be delivered through six priority groups – bird crime; farm crime; habitats; mammals and European protected species; Welsh police rural supervisors; and mental health and domestic abuse.
Mr Taylor added: “The strategy has clear aims including supporting mental health in our rural communities and addressing domestic abuse.
“We will follow the 4P plan to achieve success – prepare, prevent, pursue and protect. This means preparing for when such crimes might occur, preventing and deterring people from engaging in these offences, relentlessly pursue offenders and protect rural communities and wildlife from the impact of crime.”
Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths said: “The launch of this strategy is a big step forward in tackling rural and wildlife crime in Wales. A key theme of this is partnership working and only by working together towards our common goal can we succeed.
“The strategy sets out a clear vision for Wales which is tailored to our country’s needs and with the Rural and Wildlife Crime Coordinator as a central point I’m confident it will have a positive impact on our rural communities.”