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    Behavioural Science and Farm Crime Prevention Decision Making: understanding the behavioural culture of farmers in England and Wales


    Farms in England and Wales continue to have low levels of crime prevention measures in use despite the increasing threat, and what is used is often ineffective. As such, there is a clear need to employ different decision-making models in crime prevention advice for farmers. The principal aim of this research was to explore and better understand the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of farmers towards crime, crime prevention, the police, and insurers. Moreover, an attempt to understand how farmers make decisions about crime prevention, what factors influence those decisions, and how this compares to approaches the police are taking to tackle farm crime. A mixed methods sequential explanatory model was used so that both quantitative and qualitative data could be fully examined separately, before being brought together to provide appropriate conclusions based on the combined results. Results show an impasse between how the police are tackling farm crime and prevention, and the needs of the farmers. This results in farmers believing the police treat them as second-class citizens, and so they do not engage with crime prevention despite knowing they should. Further, farmers do not report crimes to the police as they feel they will not get a response, and it is a waste of their time. This research concludes that there is much the police, insurers, and the media can do to better respond to farm crime. Moreover, this research is the first to identify key factors affecting farmer attitudes and beliefs towards farm crime, farm crime prevention, the police, and their insurers. It is argued that the findings of this research support the use of behavioural science to improve the uptake of appropriate and effective crime prevention on-farm in light of the relative failure of traditional policy.


    The aim of this research is three-fold:

    1. Firstly, to ascertain levels of farm crime across E&W, along with an insight into farmers’ attitudes towards, and confidence in, the police and insurers, how this affects levels of crime reporting, and how this compares to the approaches taken by the police towards farm crime;
    2. Secondly, to explore the attitudes, feelings, and beliefs surrounding crime and crime prevention use among farmers of E&W; and
    3. To establish the factors that influence the crime prevention decision-making process of farmers.

    By addressing these issues, a better understanding of the behavioural culture of farmers in E&W relating to these wider aspects of victimisation can be gleaned, to establish whether BS concepts can be used to aid the effective and appropriate crime prevention decision-making process.

    To address these aims, five research questions were formulated:

    1. What are the levels of farm crime in E&W, and what is the impact of farm crime on farmers?
    2. Does the level of confidence farmers have in the police affect the likelihood of farmers reporting these crimes to the police?
    3. If farmers are using crime prevention measures, what measures are being used?
    4. What are the factors influencing farmer crime prevention decision-making?
    5. Can the findings be used to improve the appropriate, effective crime prevention decision-making of farmers in E&W?

    Funding Body

    Rural Services Network; Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia

    Lead Organisation

    Harper Adams University

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