THE acting Durham police crime and victims’ commissioner and Durham Constabulary have issued their 2020 Rural Policing Statement.

Rural crime across the county remains relatively low, but there are different challenges within the rural areas, and to address these issues police want to work together with the knowledge and experience of the community. They hope that this can make a real difference to the safety of their communities.

The new 2020 statement's vision is “People living in the more rural parts of County Durham and Darlington will feel safe. They will know that their concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour will be understood and addressed by the police and partners.”

Over the last 12 months, working with the community and partners, great progress has been made towards improving policing and community safety in rural areas.

This includes the introduction of Police Community Safety Volunteers (PCSVs), who provide visible policing presence across the force area. There are now 10 PCSVs, with dedicated resources in the Durham Dales, protecting their communities.

The fleet of drones has been supplemented enabling the force to deploy them across the constabulary where the need is greatest.

And officers from across the force area have been trained to act as the link between local wildlife incidents and members of the public.

Acting PCVC Steve White said “The publication of this, our fourth Rural Crime Statement illustrates the commitment of the PCVC and constabulary to tackle the wide range of issues faced by our rural communities.

"The overarching message is that we want people to have confidence in reporting matters to the police. Our countryside is very special as are the people who live and work it.”

Chief Constable Jo Farrell said: “Neighbourhood policing has been a driving force in tackling rural crime as it allows communities to have that access to a local police officer who is aware of specific issues and can be a familiar face for residents.

“This local accessibility is the backbone to tackling rural crime and gives people the confidence to come forward and report incidents.

“It also ensures people’s voices are heard and allows us to tackle issues, along with our partner organisations, across the entire force area.

“We will always strive to work with local communities to create opportunities where information can be shared in environments where people feel confident to do so."

To report an incident contact Durham Constabulary by calling 101 and asking for your local area – but in an emergency always phone 999. Or contact Crimestoppers anonymously via new dedicated Rural Crime Reporting Line 0800-783-0137.