THE Government is pumping £40,000 into a new initiative to tackle crime in the countryside.

The National Rural Crime Network was set up earlier this year as a collaborative think-tank to research and implement ways to reduce rural crime.

Led by North Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Julia Mulligan, it is also backed by 28 rural forces including Durham, Cleveland and Northumbria.

“Once fully operational the network will help enable a better response to the problems of rural crime and anti-social behaviour,” said Mrs Mulligan.

“This novel concept brings together over 68 per cent of the PCCs across England and Wales with other organisations in the fight against rural crime.”

She added: “Whilst rural areas typically tend to be safer and less troubled by criminality and anti-social behaviour compared to their urban counterparts, the impact of rural crime can be greater on those unlucky victims in rural locations.

“This network ensures we give these crimes the focus and attention they deserve.”

Policing minister Mike Penning said: “The National Rural Crime Network will help support rural communities and businesses that are all too often targeted by ruthless criminals who consider homes and property in the countryside an easy target.

“This collaborative approach between North Yorkshire Police and dozens of PCCs around England and Wales will enable forces and neighbourhoods to become more resilient in preventing these crimes and protecting businesses and communities in rural areas.”

Based online, the network will provide information and support for rural communities by encouraging direct interaction between businesses, organisations and the police.

It will also enable the rapid sharing of best practice and information between these groups by hosting discussion groups and ‘webinars’.