Nine in ten people living in the countryside have not seen a police officer in their local area in the last week, research has found.
The startling findings were revealed in a survey of those living in rural areas which painted a damning picture of crime in the countryside.
Rural crime including thefts, burglaries and fly-tipping cost an estimated £43.3million last year with thefts of agricultural vehicles remaining stubbornly high at a cost of £9.1million.
Local authorities recorded almost one million incidents of fly-tipping in the year leading up to the pandemic with reports of increases of up to 350 per cent in areas during lockdown.
Rural crime including thefts, burglaries and fly-tipping cost an estimated £43.3m last year with thefts of agricultural vehicles remaining stubbornly high at a cost of £9.1m (stock image)
Now, a survey of 3,000 people by the Countryside Alliance has found that seven in ten people have reported an increase in crime over the last 12 months.
Almost half of people - 48 per cent - also said they had felt intimidated by criminals or criminality over the last year.
But a shocking 89 per cent said they had not seen an officer in the last week - while more than seven in ten said they had witnessed a reduction in the number of officers or police stations in their local area.
Officer numbers dropped by more than 20,000 between 2010 and 2018 while around half the country's police stations with front counters, at least 667 stations, have been closed, particularly affecting rural areas.
Sarah Lee, director of policy at the Countryside Alliance said: 'Those living in the countryside deserve to have their voice and policing concerns listened to.
'Police resources must be distributed fairly and officers need to be sufficiently trained and equipped to deal with the type of crimes being carried out in the countryside, in all weathers and all terrains.
'Criminals need to know they cannot and will not get away with targeting rural people.
'There's a clear perception among many in the countryside that rural crime is not taken seriously enough. This fear is exacerbated when police officers are not seen to be out and about on patrol.'
Almost half of people said they had felt intimidated by criminals over the last year. But a shocking 89 per cent said they had not seen an officer in the last week (stock image)
The survey also revealed that respondents did not report 28 per cent of crimes for reasons such as it would be a 'waste of time' and that police 'could not have done anything', up from 24 per cent last year.
And more than four in ten people have had a crime committed against them in the last 12 months which includes fly-tipping, thefts and wildlife crime such as hare coursing.
While 53 per cent of people said they had installed security measures around their properties such as lighting or CCTV over the last year.
A National Police Chiefs' Council spokesman said: 'Crime in rural communities can have devastating consequences on residents and businesses alike.
'Police forces are strengthening their response to rural crime, with objectives set against a national rural affairs strategy, which is supported by all chief constables and police and crime commissioners.
'We know that police visibility remains very important to the public. All chief constables are working to ensure the service is as visible and approachable as possible.
'We encourage our rural communities to continue reporting crime and suspicious incidents to the police, so together we can maintain and build our intelligence picture, and appropriately prioritise neighbourhood and rural policing activity.'