Concerns about fly-tipping, criminal damage, anti-social behaviour, and theft, have proved to he high on the agenda of rural residents, according to recent data.

Cleveland's Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner launched a consultation earlier in the year to seek a better understanding of the issues facing communities in rural east Cleveland.

Environmental damage such as fly-tipping was the biggest cause for complaint from residents, workers and landowners, with 61.3 per cent identifying the issue as their key concern.

While 45.5 per cent of rural residents who took part in the survey identified the use of off-road vehicles as an issue in their local area.

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Criminal damage (41.3 per cent,) theft (37.3 per cent) and antisocial behaviour (33.3 per cent) were also among the top concerns voiced by people living and working in the countryside in the survey.

Many residents said that they want more engagement with police and other agencies and that they felt rural crime was taken less seriously than crime in more urban areas and urged them to tackle known crime hotspots.

The Northern Echo: Seized off-road bikes being crushed by Cleveland PoliceSeized off-road bikes being crushed by Cleveland Police (Image: Newsquest)

The Cleveland PCC said: “I’m grateful to people living and working in Cleveland’s rural areas for their feedback in this survey – it’s important that they have their say on community safety and crime matters.

“Some of the themes highlighted in the results are important for me to consider when working with agencies to better support our rural communities.

“Later this year I will be holding a scrutiny session with Cleveland Police on their policing of rural areas and feedback from this consultation will feed directly into my questions.”

Mr Turner also wanted to highlight how COPA – Cleveland Online Policing App – could give rural residents and business owners another option to report incidents.

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COPA can be used to report lower-level crimes as well as to signpost users to other services such as local councils, who are responsible for things like fly tipping, litter, dog fouling and abandoned vehicles.

The Northern Echo: Cleveland PCC Steve TurnerCleveland PCC Steve Turner (Image: Cleveland PCC)

He said: “Some of the issues affecting communities are not a matter for local police – and can instead by dealt with by other agencies across the region.

“However, if rural residents download COPA and wish to report fly-tipping, would be signposted immediately to the right local authority site.

“That would mean the right people were aware of the issue more quickly and could put a plan in place to deal with it.”

The results of the 2023 rural crime survey are available on Cleveland OPCC’s website.