GLOUCESTERSHIRES’S police and crime commissioner is supporting a new initiative aimed at tackling rural crime.

Martin Surl is one of 18 police and crime commissioners to sign up to a new National Rural Crime Network (NRCN).

Once established the NRCN will provide an online resource for police and other community safety practitioners to work together, share information, develop training and link into other mechanisms for reporting crime and suspicious behaviour in rural communities.

“Recent events within our county have shown just how vulnerable some individuals may feel at times and I hope this will show how seriously I regard the issue of rural crime”, said Mr. Surl.

“Our rural crime prevention officer Jon Palfrey worked tirelessly to raise the profile of rural crime and, in the process, created a system of rural crime liaison officers which is the envy of many other forces.

“Establishing a National Rural Crime Network will make it easier for the police and others who protect the countryside to share best practice and enable us to challenge rural crime in Gloucestershire even more successfully”. The NRCN was the brainchild of the Rural Services Network, a ‘not for profit’ organisation which represents a diverse range of rural service providers in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Rural Services Network spokesman Nick Payne said “The impact of rural crime is just as serious as it is elsewhere and it’s becoming an increasing problem as austerity bites and police resources are stretched thinner. “There is good collaborative work already occurring in some localities but it is widely acknowledged that sharing of best practice is patchy and urgently needs to be improved. The Network will ensure that is effectively coordinated and sustained,”

Another eight police and crime commissioners are considering joining the scheme.