RURAL communities in Cleveland are being asked to take part in a survey about crime and safety concerns during the pandemic.

Barry Coppinger, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, has launched the online survey to understand what added risks communities are facing.

It follows concerns raised that rural communities may become even more isolated due to current social distancing guidelines and the measures may increase the their vulnerability.

Nationally, many residents from more urban areas are increasingly using rural locations for daily exercise, raising concerns that this may impact on the spread of the virus. This could also potentially affect farmers and livestock at a time when the food distribution chain is more important than ever.

Mr Coppinger, who chairs the Tees Rural Crime Forum, said: “It’s my responsibility to engage with all communities across Cleveland and I want to ensure that rural communities continue to feed in their concerns at a time when social distancing has stopped face-to-face engagement. I want rural communities to know that despite the current circumstances, we continue to listen to their needs and will work with partners to address any emerging issues.”

Information will be shared with Cleveland Police.

Survey results will be analysed on an ongoing basis to give the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) an overview of how rural communities are feeling during this difficult time.

Information will be shared with Cleveland Police to assist in targeting community safety responses and allocating the right resources to fight rural crime.

Feedback will also be used as a basis for the next Cleveland Rural and Wildlife Crime Strategy, which is due to go live in 2021.

Paul Payne, Cleveland Police’s Rural Crime Prevention Officer, helped design the survey, and continues to engage regularly with rural communities including the 2,000 member-strong Rural Watch.

He said: “Cleveland Police take rural crime and its impact on communities extremely seriously.

“We have put this survey together to enable us to better understand the issues and to allow resources to be allocated to the appropriate areas at the appropriate times. This enables us to provide a service to the vulnerable and those living in isolated areas.

“As the Rural Crime Prevention Officer for Cleveland Police I continue to visit and contact those, who need our help and advice so they can improve their security.

“I arrange rural operations and work with partner agencies to benefit our rural communities.”

The survey can be accessed at:

Residents should report any crimes or anti-social behaviour to Cleveland Police. Use 999 in an emergency or 101 or online reporting for non-emergencies. Incidents can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.