A NEW rural crime network has been launched in North Yorkshire with the aim of tackling issues in rural areas.

The National Rural Crime network aims to unite rural areas by looking at operations in various communities, sharing best practice, and working more closely with local residents.

Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, is among 18 commissioners in England and Wales who has signed up to the new scheme, and another eight PCCs are currently considering joining.

Mrs Mulligan said: “As the Commissioner for the largest rural police force in England, I am particularly keen to support this initiative. Clearly, crime in rural areas accounts for a large proportion of North Yorkshire Police’s demand.

“There are significant pressures on rural police forces and by coming together, we will be able to speak in a strong and united voice. I am particularly pleased that the network also includes other organisations dedicated to rural communities.

"In this way, we should all be able to learn from one another and work collaboratively on new ideas and solutions that will benefit our local people.”

Police will work with representatives from the Rural Services Network, Farmers Weekly magazine, the National Community Safety Network, the online crime reporting system Facewatch, and the Country Land and Business Association under the scheme.

Nick Payne, from the Rural Services Network, said: “There is a common perception that rural crime is less significant than that occurring in cities and towns.

“The impact of rural crime is just as serious as it is elsewhere, which is becoming an increasing problem as austerity bites and as police resources are stretched thinner.”

“There are also strong links to serious organised gangs in relation to some classifications of rural crime, for example, theft of agricultural plant and machinery as well as the availability of drugs alongside more conventional issues such as wildlife and heritage crime.”