New figures from the NFU Mutual reveal that the cost of rural theft in 2020 reduced by 20 per cent, partly due to the pandemic and lockdowns, but that incidents of fly-tipping and dog attacks on livestock continued to increase.

The report showed that rural theft cost an estimated £43.3 million last year, the lowest annual cost recorded in five years; the cost of GPS theft almost doubled, rising to £2.9 million; while dog attacks rose by 50 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020.

NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts, said: “Rural crime continues to be a huge issue for British farmers and its impact is enormous.

“Whether it’s having a vital piece of equipment stolen at harvest time or an industrial load of rubbish dumped on your land, the practical effects for a business are significant.

“But we must also remember that farms are also homes to farming families and frequently these criminal acts bring with them intimidation or threats of violence. We must not overlook the emotional toll rural crime can have.”

He also said there needs to be a commitment from the police, adding: “While it’s good news that the overall cost of rural theft fell significantly last year, it’s clear that the situation remains far from positive with fly-tipping and dog attacks on livestock continuing to rise.

“This reflects what we hear from our members on a daily basis and it underlines the importance of a much more co-ordinated approach between central government, local authorities and the police to tackle this ongoing problem. Tackling rural crime needs to be taken seriously, with its links to organised crime properly understood, and there needs to be a commitment to level up policing for both urban and rural areas to create a safer, cleaner and greener rural Britain.”