THE government has confirmed a two-year funding package for a newly created National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) operating across England and Wales.

Funding of almost £40,000 was announced by the Home Office. It will be used to provide information and support for rural communities by encouraging direct interaction between businesses, organisations and the police.

The concept for a rural crime network was developed by the Rural Services Network (RSN), working alongside most of those PCCs serving rural communities. The network brings together 28 Police and Crime Commissioners – as well as their Police Forces – with other national rural stakeholder organisers.

Nick Payne, RSN officer said: "This award is a fantastic boost for what has been universally seen as a vital and unique initiative.

"The costs of the project are very modest when set against the significant improvements in performance that will accrue on a national basis through the effective sharing of information and best practice.

"It's good to receive this welcome official recognition so early in the life of the project. The Home Office's grant will be put alongside individual funding pledges from each of the PCCs and commercial sponsorship kindly provided by NFU Mutual."

The funding will secure the network's operation for the first two years. From year three, it is anticipated that the network would become fully self-funding through member subscriptions and sponsorship, added Mr Payne.

Funding will be used by the network to encourage rural communities to participate in local crime prevention initiatives. It will also be used to help network members share best practice when it comes to detecting, preventing and deterring rural crime across England and Wales.

The NRCN, which is led by North Yorkshire PCC Julia Mulligan, has been granted £39,200 from the Home Office's Police Innovation Fund – a £50 million fund for projects that encourage collaboration between emergency services and communities.

Policing Minister Mike Penning said: "The National Rural Crime Network will help support rural communities and businesses that are all too often targeted by ruthless criminals who consider homes and property in the countryside an easy target.

The 28 Police and Crime Commissioners supporting the network are:- Avon and Somerset, Cheshire, Cleveland, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Durham, Dyfed-Powys, Essex, Gloucestershire, Gwent, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Northumbria, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Thames Valley, Warwickshire, West Mercia, Wiltshire.

In addition to Police and Crime Commissioners, other participating organisations include the National Farmers Union, the Country Land and Business Association, Neighbourhood Watch, Crimestoppers, NFU Mutual and Farmers Weekly magazine, among others. The NRCN is also supported by leading academics and the National Community Safety Network.