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Rural Crime in Surrey Laura Rowley, the Wildlife & Rural Crime Coordinator for Surrey Police talks about rural crime in our county – “Surrey is one of the country’s most beautiful counties; it is in fact the most wooded county in the UK. It is home to a wealth of wildlife and offers us access to some truly wonderful places to explore. However, we face a very real threat from criminal individuals who exploit our communities and damage our rural surroundings.
“As Surrey Police’s Wildlife & Rural Crime Co-ordinator, much of my time is spent helping our officers and staff understand what rural crime is. At the moment we have four crime types that we are concentrating on reducing across the county and, by working with our communities, we can tackle these incidents; but what can you do to help?
If you own a dog, or walk dogs for a friend or as a business, please ensure you keep them on a lead when near livestock. If you find they become agitated or excitable when near livestock, walk them away and consider an alternative route.
If you are a land owner, consider placing clear signs at any entrance points to your land warning dog walkers that there is livestock in the field. This can help prepare a dog walker to take the necessary steps to reduce the risk of an incident. Speak to your local neighbourhood team about our Livestock Worrying signs.
If you witness, or are a victim of, livestock worrying, please call the police immediately.
If you regularly walk or jog in rural areas, consider looking out for the potential signs of hare coursing, which is a form of poaching. It often happens at dusk or dawn around harvest time (late-Aug/early-Sept) when large tracts of land are crop-less. You may see a group of vehicles parked in a rural area, by a farmland gateway, on a grass verge, track or bridle path. Usually these are estate cars, 4x4s or vans with evidence of carrying dogs. Hare coursers often travel in convoy with minders’ vans front and rear.
If you witness hare coursing (or evidence of any other form of poaching), contact the police immediately. Do not approach participants.
Green Laning is where owners of off-road vehicles, such as 4x4s or trail bikes, take them to ‘Green Lanes’ (so called due to the dense vegetation and unsurfaced road) for recreational driving. This, in itself, is not illegal, however there are some who are taking their vehicles on land they should not be on, including heritage sites or SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest). This can cause permanent damage to the land and its wildlife.
If you witness, or are aware of illegal green laning, please call the police immediately. If you enjoy Green Laning responsibly, and would like more information, the Green Laning Association (GLASS) is a good resource on both where it is permitted and the codes of conduct whilst doing it:
Theft of Plant Machinery
Many of our rural community own valuable plant machinery, such as tractors, land rovers or quad bikes. These are often targeted by thieves and, if stolen, can have a devastating effect on the owner’s livelihood. It is vital that theft of plant machinery is reported as soon as possible, but there also are some actions you can do too, to help protect your machinery. Install CCTV, regularly check it is not obstructed and put up camera warning signs. Mark your machinery; consider etching, stamping or forensic fluid. Ensure all machinery is stored in a secure, locked building.
“The impact of these crimes can be considerable to our rural communities and it is very important that we ensure we help our residents prevent such crimes from happening.
How do you report rural crime?
“Surrey is blessed with a very active, highly integrated rural network. From dog walkers to landowners, farmers to horse breeders. We value each and every one of our county’s communities and want to ensure we work closely with them to ensure we have the most accurate picture possible of any criminal activity happening in your area.
1) Call 101 to report crime, or dial 999 in an emergency or if a crime is in progress.
2) If you have information about a rural crime, you can call 101 or contact Crimestoppers’ anonymous Rural Crime Line on 0800 783 0137 or use their online form here:
How can you help?
“You are our eyes and ears and we want to continue to build strong relationships with our rural communities, and as such InTheKnow is an excellent platform for us to communicate with you. The more of rural Surrey we have on InTheKnow, the broader our reach is and the better our impact will be on preventing crime and protecting our residents. If you know someone who would benefit from receiving updates around rural crime, please do forward this message onto them or direct them to https://www.InTheKnow.community, where they can sign up.
“If you haven’t yet, make sure you (and those you tell about InTheKnow) select ‘Country Watch’ as an interest:
1) Select ‘Update your interests now’ and then ‘What type of messages do you want to receive?’
2) Under ‘Rural and Animal Issues’, select ‘Country Watch’
“Together we can help make Surrey’s countryside the safest it can be.”
Working together with Surrey’s rural communities.