§ Mr. Pond
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on trends in crime in rural areas; and what measures the Government are taking to tackle crime in rural areas. 
§ Mr. Michael
According to the most recent research—the 1996 British Crime Survey—rural communities are at considerably less risk of burglary, vehicle-related theft, vandalism and contact crime. 3.9 per cent. of homes in rural areas were burgled in 1995 compared to 6.3 per cent. in urban areas and 10.3 per cent. in inner cities. In addition, there is less fear of crime. 15.2 per cent. said they were worried about being burgled, compared with 23 per cent. living in urban areas and 32 per cent. living in inner cities. Despite their older age profile, those surveyed said they felt safer on their local streets. 23 per cent. said they felt fairly or very unsafe walking alone after dark, compared to 33 per cent. in urban areas and 45 per cent. of inner city dwellers.
We recognise that rural areas can suffer the twin problems of a less obvious police presence and longer response times to emergency calls. The most effective way to deal with rural crime is for the police and local community to work together in partnership.722W
The Crime and Disorder Bill will provide for new statutory duties for local authorities and the police to create an effective results-orientated framework for local action to tackle local problems. The nature of these problems will vary significantly from one area to another, and it is the Government's intention to allow maximum flexibility to reflect this. Rural areas, in common with urban and inner city areas, will benefit from this approach.