Last week I had a great day out with Chichester Police to learn more about rural crime in our area and what methods they are using to tackle it. Rural crime is a particular issue in the Chichester District so we now have a dedicated wildlife and rural crime specialist officer who takes a lead across Sussex to identify the latest types of crime and how we can better detect and prevent them. One type of crime on the rise is what is known as waste crime. This includes fly tipping and other illegal ways of dumping toxic waste to avoid associated charges with correct disposal. This is increasing as other countries such as China, no longer accept toxic waste to be put into landfill.
Fly tipping is a public nuisance that concerns all residents. For waste dumped on public land it is Chichester District Council who have the responsibility to clear this up. Last year this cost the taxpayer £65,000 alone. For waste dumped on private land this is the responsibility of the land owner with usually a farmer having to pay the costs to have the waste removed. The criminals involved in this activity are using every more ingenious means to dupe farmers into accepting toxic waste which is disguised and then either placed in fields alongside silage bails or a farmer is paid to store bails in an unused building only to discover that the owner never returns and leaves the farmer with a field full or barn full of toxic waste. We heard of one case where a farmer had to pay more than £200,000 to clean up the damage left by toxic waste products.
Sussex Rural Crime Partnership, is a community watch scheme that involves integrating the resources of Sussex Police, the Environment Agency and local councils to combat rural crime more effectively. Working together the scheme aims to encourage residents to report crime and sign up for local updates through its dedicated website, www.intheknow.community. As well as dealing with waste crime the partnership is also focused on farm vehicle theft, sheep worrying and illegal activities such as hare coursing which are regaining popularity due to online betting from countries in the Far East. Our local police are investing in more technology to help combat its use by criminals.
There is quite a lot going on in Parliament at the moment so if you want to come along I will be holding another Open Meeting tomorrow evening (Friday 16th) between 6 and 8pm at the Age Concern building in Southbourne.