Great news this week. Our application for funding from the new College of Policing will help us start the development of a Centre for Rural Policing and Justice.
Before I hear anyone mention sheep rustling, let me explain a little more about it.
The Centre is still in its very early stages. It’s the result of discussions between the Chief Constable (who holds the national lead for this area), myself and leading academics, Martin Innes and Kate Williams.
We want to bring the same professionalism and thought to rural policing and justice as exists for urban areas. Dyfed Powys is the most rural force in England and Wales. It also has the highest levels of public satisfaction.
The purpose of the Centre is to combine the best brains and the best bobbies. That will help us improve, learn from others and provide opportunities for our staff.
This initial money will be used to build an evidence base and establish partnerships with academia. We hope this will eventually expand to include other universities, police forces, PCCs and businesses.
But, first of all, we need to establish a solid foundation. That’s what we will start with UPSI in Cardiff and the University of Aberystwyth. I’ll be looking for a partnership that can deliver a better understanding of the practice and principles of rural policing. We will share data from the police and commissioned services and will look for sophisticated analysis that takes in other justice, demographic and economic data.
This will help us target crime trends and hotspots better. That means we can respond better with fewer resources, which in turn means we can prevent crime.
In due course, the Centre might provide surveys, analysis or policy work on particular topics – for example, challenges of protecting particularly vulnerable groups in rural areas, or disrupting travelling criminals, or stopping middle aged men killing themselves on speeding motorbikes.
And yes, it will also help prevent sheep rustling. It’s just that there’s more to rural policing than those metropolitan sophisticates who dominate public debate realise.