People who live and work in the countryside are being urged to take part in a survey of rural crime.

The National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) survey is investigating the impact of crime on communities in rural areas of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It was launched last week (20 May) and runs until 24 June.

“We recognised rural crime was a more significant issue in the countryside than was being reported,” said Nick Payne, a spokesman for the NRCN.

The survey takes 10-15 minutes to complete and asks how safe people feel, how effective are the police, if they’ve had anything stolen and what security measures have been put in place afterwards.

The data will be used to work with police forces to improve ways of engaging the rural public to deter rural crime.

“We want to understand why people are apathetic at employing basic security measures like tack marking,” Mr Payne told H&H.

He warns that cuts in policing will mean “people need to be more self-reliant and resilient at deterring rural crime in the first place”.

“We’re hoping one of the outcomes of the survey will be to get the Home Office to have specific figures for rural crime,” he added.

There are currently no official government figures for rural crime as all criminal offences are recorded by type not location.

Liam Thompson a spokesman for NFU Mutual, which also runs a survey, added: “Anything which helps paint a more detailed picture of rural crime is a welcome development. Early indications from our own data, due to be published in early August, show that, although there has been an overall and welcome reduction in rural crime, in several regions and around certain types of crime the figures remain stubbornly high. The more than can be done to shine a light on this issue, the better.”

Early figures from NFU Mutual’s survey show there could be a 30% rise in national equine-related theft, with the Midlands, north west and south east particularly affected.

The NRCN survey is backed by 30 polices forces across the country and by rural organisations including the Countryside Alliance (CA).

“Crime can affect all those living and working in rural areas, with traditional farm-related incidents such as fuel theft and sheep rustling making up part of a much bigger problem,” said the CA’s Barney White-Spunner.

“This important survey will also shed light on the human implications of offences, showing it is not just victims who are affected but communities as a whole. I urge everyone who can to take part.”

There are currently no official figures for rural crime as all criminal acts are recorded by type not location.

Results are due in mid-July.

The NRCN survey is open until 24 June. To take part visit http://www.nationalruralcrimenetwork.net/survey