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County lines and organised crime: What is the impact on the rural economy? Lords to hear evidence

Over two evidence sessions on Tuesday 27 November the House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy will ask witnesses what impact poor access to public transport has on the rural economy and what is being done to tackle rural crime.

Buses are the most significant form of public transport in rural communities but cuts to public transport, and the erosion of local services in recent years, has caused problems for accessibility with a wider knock on effect on rural economies. The Committee will ask what more can be done to support the travel needs of people in rural areas.

In the second session the Committee will ask witnesses about the particular challenges facing police in the fight against rural crime, and whether police forces in rural areas are adequately equipped to deal with county lines and of criminal activities.

The first evidence session will begin at 9:45 in Committee room 1 of the House of Lords, giving evidence will be:

  • Mr Ben Colson, Chair, Bus Users UK
  • Mr Darren Shirley, CEO, Campaign for Better Transport
  • Mr John Birtwistle, Head of Policy - UK Bus, FirstGroup plc

Other questions the Committee are likely to ask include:

  • What are the options for young people living in rural areas who need to travel to apprenticeships, jobs or further education?
  • What role does the charity and voluntary sector play in the delivery of transport services?
  • Is the charity and voluntary sector expanding services or simply filling gaps where the statutory and private sector has pulled out?
  • What are the main pressures that commercial bus providers face when providing services to rural areas?

The second session will begin at 10:45 and giving evidence will be:

  • Ms Julia Mulligan, Chair, National Rural Crime Network
  • Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor, Lead for Rural Crime, National Police Chiefs' Council

Other questions the Committee are likely to ask include:

  • What impact have funding cuts had on the ability of rural police forces to effectively manage the caseload in rural areas?
  • What level of coordination is there among police forces when it comes to tackling rural crime?
  • Is there a gap between the perception or fear of crime and the reality of crime in rural areas?
  • Are there emerging technological solutions that will help address rural crime?

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