The first made-in-Wales strategy to tackle wildlife and rural crime is to be launched at the Royal Welsh Showground today.
Wildlife and rural crime can come in many forms such as the theft of agricultural equipment, devastating livestock offences and the destruction of wildlife and their habitats. Rural theft alone was valued to cost £1.3m in 2021.
The joint strategy, between the Welsh Government and Wales’ four police forces, will be key in the fight against such offences.
A co-ordinated and strategic approach will be central to the success of the strategy which is being launched.
In 2021, Rob Taylor was appointed Wales’ Rural and Wildlife Crime Coordinator, the first role of its kind in the UK, and he will lead on facilitating the strategy.
Mr Taylor said: “Rural and wildlife crime can have a devastating impact, affecting rural communities, farmers, wildlife as well as habitats and our heritage.
“The launch of this first ever made-in-Wales strategy to integrate rural and wildlife crime, will be vital in bringing Welsh Government, police forces and partners together alongside my role as coordinator to tackle such offences.”
Amongst the objectives of the strategy are:
• Working in partnership to reduce crime and protect rural communities and wildlife
• Develop effective networks to share ideas, best practice, and resources
• Improve the knowledge and skills needed to support victims affected by crime in rural areas especially those most vulnerable
• Provide training and opportunities to develop skills in a broad range of wildlife and rural crime issues, maximising use of partner agencies
• Improve data collection and information sharing among partners and enforcement agencies
• Use technology and innovation to protect rural communities and wildlife.
The strategy has been tailored to Wales’ needs and will be delivered through six priority groups – Bird Crime; Farm Crime; Habitats; Mammals and European Protected Species; Welsh Police Rural Supervisors; and Mental Health and Domestic Abuse.
Rob Taylor added: “The strategy has clear aims including supporting mental health in our rural communities and addressing domestic abuse.
“We will follow the 4P plan to achieve success – prepare, prevent, pursue and protect. This means preparing for when such crimes might occur, preventing and deterring people from engaging in these offences, relentlessly pursue offenders and protect rural communities and wildlife from the impact of crime.”
Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths said: “The launch of this strategy is a big step forward in tackling rural and wildlife crime in Wales. A key theme of this is partnership working and only by working together towards our common goal can we succeed.
“The strategy sets out a clear vision for Wales which is tailored to our country’s needs and with the Rural and Wildlife Crime Coordinator as a central point I’m confident it will have a positive impact on our rural communities.”
Dyfed-Powys Police Chief Constable, Dr Richard Lewis said: “I look forward to welcoming delegates to Llanelwedd, and to the launch of the of the first All Wales Wildlife and Rural Crime Strategy, joint between the Welsh Government and Police.
“This significant and holistic strategy aims to improve rural policing across Wales as well as address the unique challenges faced within our rural communities.
“The event will bring together individuals across the sector and I look forward to hearing about the innovative work taking place to safeguard our countryside and country life.”