A report from the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner following her meeting with local members of the National Farmers Union and the High Sheriff of West Sussex for a discussion about rural policing.
It's an issue near the top of my agenda as I'm aware of how isolated farmers can feel, especially in a large county where available police resources may be some distance away. Also present was the Force's lead for rural and wildlife crime, Sergeant Tom Carter, who explained the steps being taken by Sussex Police to strengthen the connection with our county's farming communities.
He said: 'Increased engagement is key for us. We don't want farmers to feel abandoned and will do all we can to respond to their concerns and encourage the reporting of incidents and intelligence. The theft of hi-tech equipment - which can have such a devastating impact on a farmer's livelihood - is taken extremely seriously by Sussex Police, as are issues such as flytipping and the worrying of livestock.'
Sergeant Carter explained how all new police officer recruits are to be given a day's rural training on a farm to improve their understanding and appreciation of the issue. The NFU will be involved in this and also in the development of a new smartphone app to make the reporting of crime quicker and easier for Sussex farmers.
I was pleased to see participants leave the meeting encouraged that things are moving in the right direction. Working alongside Sussex Police, I'm determined to ensure more progress is made so farmers in our county can feel fully supported by the police force.
The Chief Constable and I welcomed Policing Minister Kit Malthouse to Lewes this week to meet the Force's latest recruits, their dedicated trainers and some outstanding serving officers.
The opening of the new national police officer recruitment campaign is great news for Sussex residents, great news for Sussex Police and a great opportunity for anybody wanting a fulfilling and varied career. As the Minister could see, the Force has already had huge success in encouraging new applicants of a very high standard.
Local communities will be delighted at the prospect of hundreds more officers joining those in training since we started to boost recruitment by 250 last year. Visible policing in Sussex remains one of my key commitments in order to increase safety and public confidence.
Katy Bourne OBE
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner