ANY farmer who has been the victim of crime will understand that the damage is not only financial but there are personal and emotional consequences too.

Whether it’s machinery theft or fly tipping, sheep worrying or off-road biking, each will heap anxiety onto an already stressful job.

Figures show that rural crime is escalating year on year and that situation is putting a massive strain on farmers and their businesses.

Farmers who responded to a recent survey on rural crime said that each incident had cost them an average of £5,100 and for one in 10 respondents it was £10,000 or more.

We once had the safety net of a police presence in the countryside but that is being inched away with cuts that have seen the gradual closure of countryside police stations. When did you last see a police patrol car on a country road or at least one that wasn’t there to catch speeding motorists?

Farms are often seen as a soft target by thieves. If there is anyone who understands the human cost of slower call-out times it will be them.

Being issued with a crime reference number to make an insurance claim is little comfort to the victims of crime. Insurance premiums rise and criminals who are not caught will be back.

Wales needs more rural policing, more prosecutions and more crimes solved.

Some police forces are doing more than others to counter rural crime. North Wales and Dyfed-Powys police forces are a case in point with teams dedicated to this task and many new initiatives. They are achieving real results on many fronts.

Other forces must do more to drive down crime in our countryside communities.

Public sector funding will be under pressure as we emerge from the pandemic but farming and rural areas must not be seen as easy wins when governments are looking to keep spending in check.

Budgets for tackling rural crime must not be pared back further, farmers have as much right to be protected from crime as any citizen.