There is no special case for policing in rural communities. Not because these communities are valued any less, but because every community should be valued equally in the Thames Valley and should expect and receive the highest standards of policing.
As the largest non-metropolitan police force in the country, the Thames Valley area covers 2,200 square miles, much of which encompasses rural and often isolated communities. Whilst many of the policing challenges remain the same regardless of geography, the techniques and resources needed to tackle them can often vary.
Burglary and robbery can happen anywhere, but in rural communities it is often targeted at isolated properties and the property stolen may be farm machinery rather than household goods. Offences such a hare coursing and attacks on livestock are uniquely rural offences; and yet the challenge of domestic abuse, child exploitation and fraud can be just as prevalent.
The answer to this is to reinforce strong local policing. Thames Valley Police have ring-fenced neighbourhood officer to give them the time the public expect to engage with local communities. The Police & Crime Commissioner has continued to support the provision of 4x4 vehicles and specialist equipment to ensure that officers have the tools to do their job; and the increase in recruitment that is just beginning to lift the number of police officers will all go into front-line local policing.
Rural crime will remain a priority for Thames Valley Police, not because rural communities are a special case, but because they require a different approach. All communities, however urban or rural should expect engagement from the police, and understanding of the challenges that people face and a determination to keep people safe.