To some small villages in north Suffolk, crime is something that happens only in other parishes.
2014 crime figures for Suffolk show that four parishes in the Diss Express area, Wilby, Rishangles, Thornham Parva and Bedingfield, recorded zero crime that year.
Meanwhile in wards where crimes have been recorded, Worlingworth has the fewest crimes, as a ratio of its population, in the county.
The figures were published by Suffolk Observatory, which publishes official statistics about the county.
Wilby has few facilities, and a little under 100 homes in the whole parish but does have a busy primary school. Council chairman Ian Williamson said: “It is a very settled community. I think people are reasonably alert and the police are good at keeping people advised of what the crime trends are. They attend parish council meetings or submit a report.
“If there were any crimes here then people would have the confidence to report them to the police.”
Although there are fewer police per square mile in rural areas like north Suffolk, the use of community crime prevention initiatives such as Neighbourhood Watch has been pointed out as a reason for lower crime.
Ever diminishing funding for the police force is resulting in increased focus on what communities can do for themselves to help keep crime at bay.
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore told the Diss Express: “By the police supporting the voluntary sector such as with Neighbourhood Watch and Farm Watch, that is doing a tremendous amount of work to help prevent crime in the first place. It is very much a joined-up approach between the Constabulary, working with communities and businesses.”
Mr Passmore said he had ring-fenced the county’s threatened £700,000 Community Safety Fund, which helps similar community initiatives, and has introduced two dedicated teams of rural special constables, including volunteers from the farming sector.
A special rural crime officer was brought in last year, using new technology like an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system and travelling the patch in a Land Rover.
But leading rural insurer NFU mutual warned last year that rural crime, particularly thefts from farms, was a serious problem. The insurer estimated that Suffolk was the sixth worst in the UK for the cost of rural crime in 2013.
Suffolk’s Detective Chief Inspector Tonya Antonis said: “It is great to see certain parishes without any crime. In rural areas across Suffolk, we have increased our high visibility patrols which can help to drive down crime.
“In rural areas we see crime such as theft of lead from churches and hare-coursing, which are a real priority for us. These are the type of crimes that can have a real impact on communities.
“We urge local communities to be active in neighbourhood policing and our message is for anyone who sees anything suspicious in their neighbourhood to let us know by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.”
Mr Passmore echoed the need for people to tell the police about crime. He said: “People must report crime. If they are not getting a satisfactory answer (from the police) then they can contact our office and we will follow that up.”
The commissioner’s office can be contacted on 01473 782773.
n What are your experiences of rural crime? Do you believe we live in a lower crime area? Has it got better or worse over last few years? Email email@example.com