FARMERS in Herefordshire have hit out at the police for not doing enough to deal with rural crime, leaving them facing violence by robbers.

Bromyard and Winslow Town Council heard how members of the local farming community from nearby parishes expressed their "deep anguish and anger" about the "unprecedented rise in organised criminal activity in rural areas".

Minutes of an extraordinary council meeting said the crimes were affecting them economically and mentally, with the farmers affected by burglaries, thefts and robberies.


Incidents of threatening behaviour and even physical assault had left people feeling unsafe and too frightened to leave their homes and businesses unattended despite having security measures in place, the minutes said.

Hereford Times: Marc Bayliss has spoken to Herefordshire farmers about rural crime. File picture Marc Bayliss has spoken to Herefordshire farmers about rural crime. File picture

The document said dissatisfaction was expressed about the way West Mercia Police responds to incidents and communication and follow-up was felt to be poor. The lack of visible police presence in the countryside was also said to not help deter criminals, particularly after dark.

More rural crime officers being recruited

Questions were directed to deputy police and crime commissioner Marc Bayliss and Inspector James Ashton about their approach to tackling rural crime and what could be done to support the farming community.

Mr Bayliss gave an overview of the police and crime commissioner’s role, powers, and responsibilities, one of which is to hold the Chief Constable to account in terms of delivering an efficient and effective service that meets the needs of the public.

Want to stay up to date with all the latest Bromyard news? It's easy, just sign up for our weekly email newsletter here and all the important stories that matter to you will be delivered straight to your inbox.

He said rural and acquisitive crime has been identified as one of the key priorities in the Safer West Mercia Plan, and that the police were recruiting 145 extra police officers to meet demand as well as investing in some additional dedicated rural crime officers.

He said the police were also working with other forces across the country to try to learn from their best practice about how they tackle rural crime.

More police working in Bromyard

Inspector James Ashton then gave an overview of the Safer Neighbourhood Team and additional dedicated rural crime team covering the Bromyard area.


Inspector James Ashton also spoke to farmers about their concerns

Inspector James Ashton also spoke to farmers about their concerns


He said from early January 2023 Bromyard would have two dedicated police constables and two police community support officers to cover the parish and the surrounding areas.

He also said during the November 28 meeting that investment in new technology and local initiatives had yielded some good results with stolen property starting to be recovered.

The police are focusing efforts on evidence-based policing with a drive to deter criminals and secure convictions, he said, but the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt must be established in order for the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether a case will be taken to court.


In the autumn, NFU Mutual urged farmers to increase security as darker winter nights enable criminals to raid the countryside unseen.

The leading rural insurer was concerned that the nights drawing in, combined with the deepening cost of living crisis, could trigger further increases in thefts from farms and rural properties.

A recent poll by NFU Mutual found that 89 per cent of respondents believed that inflation would lead to an increase in rural crime.

NFU Mutual claims for thefts revealed that farm vehicles, including tractors, quad bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) pick-up trucks, and Land Rover Defenders, are all targets for rural thieves.

It said fuel, machinery and GPS devices were also targets.

What are your thoughts?

You can send a letter to the editor to have your say by clicking here.

Letters should not exceed 250 words and local issues take precedence.