British farmers are being advised to protect their land with "medieval" fortifications as a "new breed" of organised criminals with links to human trafficking drive up crime.
NFU mutual, Britain's biggest farm insurer, has recommended farmers throw up embankments, dig ditches, and install CCTV cameras and floodlights to deter raiders in 4x4s, who have helped drive a 13.4 percent year-on-year increase in rural crime, costing the British economy some £44.5 million.
The insurer said these "medieval solutions" could be "extremely effective, particularly for keeping away thieves who no longer fear being caught on CCTV, or who have the skills to overcome electronic security systems".
"There's no doubt that rural crime has changed massively in the last decade," observedNFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Tim Price.
"Ten years ago [rural crime] was largely unstructured, stealing from the next village, trying to sell it at a car boot sale. Now we are seeing organised criminals who have links to drugs and the county lines issues, money laundering, even in some cases, human trafficking."
Farm machinery targeted in the crimes is often shipped abroad for sale or deployed in violent urban crimes such as cash point ram raids.
The ‘county lines' issue Price refers to involves criminals from multicultural urban centres such as London and Birmingham heading out into suburban and provincial areas to target victims and deal drugs further afield.
U.S. academics such as Robert Putnam have published research suggesting such developments may be expected as diversity increases in society, noting it is "sadly true" that - in the American context, at least - "poverty, crime, and diversity are... intercorrelated".
Putnam further noted that, at least in the short term, people "[in] diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down'," as neighbourliness and "trust [and] altruism and community cooperation" become rarer.
Recommendations for rural farmers to begin erecting literally medieval fortifications to protect themselves could perhaps be interpreted as a particularly extreme example of this "hunkering down" process.