Students could play lead role in helping to crack rural crime says group

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A NEW campaign has seen Sussex Crimestoppers join forces with the NFU and English Heritage to help fight the rising tide of rural crime.

And the scheme is asking college students to lend their eyes and ears.

The two-pronged initiative consists of a video resource for colleges to use in lessons and a graphic storyboard for use throughout the wider community. Both urge the public’s help to keep Sussex a safe place to live and work, protecting our rural way of life for generations to come.

A DVD available to colleges features victims, including young farmers, speaking out about the impact of rural crime.

It will be used by schools liaison officers to engage pupils, along with a hard-hitting graphic storyboard featuring the many guises of rural crime, asking people to pass on information about crimes anonymously via Crimestoppers.

Bestselling crime novelist and Sussex Crimestoppers co patron Peter James says: “In straitened financial times, as we are in, the countryside provides a soft target for villains.

“It is difficult for rural dwellers to protect outbuildings against determined thieves, and gardening and agricultural machinery are easily saleable for instant cash. Crimestoppers is helping the police to combat rural crime.”

Chief Inspector Martin Sims, Sussex Police, said: “The majority of rural crime takes place in isolated areas where witness appeals are unlikely to prove successful.

“However, people do talk and there’s every chance that someone, somewhere knows something about the crimes that this campaign covers. If people don’t want to talk directly to police or are concerned about preserving their anonymity, then Crimestoppers provide an excellent alternative method of contact.

“More and more people are concerned about the environment they live in and there’s a genuine desire to report on campaign issues. The graphic storyboard covers all the issues we would like to hear about and the DVD backs it up and provides an awareness tool for use in schools.”

If people have seen or heard something suspicious or unusual but do not wish to talk directly to police, they can call 0800 555 111 to pass on information about crimes anonymously or visit the website on: www.crimestoppers-uk.org.