The National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) has conducted a survey of over 17,000 people living and working in rural areas throughout England and Wales which suggests the true cost of crime in rural areas could exceed £800m.
This figure is 21 times higher than previous figures, dwarfing earlier estimates.
Commenting on this report, Gordon Millward, regional chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Unfortunately, crime affects millions of businesses across the UK every year. It disrupts their businesses and costs them precious time and money. As this report shows, we have still got some way to go to tackle crimes against business, particularly in rural areas.
“All crimes against businesses must of course be taken seriously. But rural businesses need particular attention to reflect the challenges they face and to ensure we have a vibrant and robust rural economy. The new definition of ‘business crime’ adopted by the police in April is a real step forward.
“We would like future reports to set out the specific concerns of business owners so the issues they face can be seen clearly. If a firm does experience crime, we encourage business owners to report it, and for the police to treat those reports with the same levels of priority as they would with other similar crimes.”