ARE people out for a walk in the glorious Powys countryside actually casing farms to find out what is worth stealing?

At a meeting discussing crime figures, a councillor wondered whether better access to the countryside and an increase of visitors was actually a bad thing.

Powys County Council’s economy residents, communities and governance scrutiny committee was discussing a report from the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) which showed a worrying trend that crime was increasing in Powys.

Cllr Les George (Conservative – Caersws), said: “With the ensuing policies of the Welsh Government that are opening up the countryside to the general public, this is obviously going to be detrimental to safety and rural crime.

“How are we going to overcome that?

“Because you are inviting people from anywhere into the countryside.

“They are walking the footpaths and bridleways and straying off them.

“Some footpaths actually go through farmyards and people may go on walks specifically for crime reasons.

“Is there some ways of policy to prevent that.”

CSP co-ordinator, Fay Smith, said: “None that I’m aware of.

“We are crime and disorder and sit over here and leisure and recreational services sit over there.”

“It’s about awareness raising, to say the countryside is becoming more and more open there will be strangers walking around more often.

“We do have the rural crime teams and they are making a significant difference.”

Ms Smith went on to say that by having the police rural crime team in place the data was being collected on crimes taking place in the countryside.

Ms Smith added: “We have been aware of  sheep thefts for years but had no data on it but we have that now.

“This is a very new group that has only been operating since last autumn, and we’re only just seeing the benefits of it.”

She added that there was a huge network of staff that worked in rural areas and that she though that Natural Resources Wales (NRW) would know more about the open access and well being strategies that Cllr George was talking about.

The CSP report, said:

  • Vehicle Offences: Powys has seen an increase of 13.4 per cent or 32 incidents which is well over the national average of two per cent.
  • Public order offences, usually referring to the use of or threat of violence or harassment towards someone else, in a public place has increased by 18.4 per cent or 64 incidents.
  • Violence against the Person has gone up  17.8 per cent or 381 incidents during the past year is linked to serious organised crime.
  • Powys has seen a reduction of 9.9 per cent or 121 offences of ‘Other Theft’ during 2018/19.

Legislation such as Future Well-Being Act encourages people to spend time in the countryside as it is good for mental health and the tourist industry in Powys is trying to draw more visitors here.