COUNTRYSIDE areas continue to be poorly-policed and more needs to be done to protect people who live there, local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has warned.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said it was clear rural areas were still being left under-resourced, leading to families feeling unsafe and even threatened.

He was speaking after the release of a survey revealing nearly six out of 10 people living in the countryside did not think rural policing had improved since Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were introduced in 2012.

There are currently 39 PCCs, who are elected to make sure the police are run properly.

The next PCC elections will be held in May.

But three out of four of the 2,000-plus people who took part in the survey said crime had become worse in the past 12 months.

Twelve per cent felt unsafe after dark in their homes or communities, and 42 per cent felt less safe than they did five years ago.

Sixteen per cent said they had considered moving or leaving their local area because of crime, and 44 per cent had ‘felt intimidated by criminality or criminals’ over the past year.

Mr Liddell-Grainger, who represents West Somerset and will be the Conservative candidate at the next General Election for an area taking in the Culm Valley and parishes around Wellington, said it was clear the appointment of PCCs had done little, if anything, to make the countryside more safe.

He said: “Nobody regarded their arrival as a sort of magic wand, but there was a feeling that they might bring pressure to bear on police forces to sharpen up in areas where police cover was thin on the ground.

“It just has not happened.

“The Avon and Somerset force, for instance, is entirely happy to concentrate resources in town and city at the expense of rural areas, which is how on one occasion quoted to me one PCSO was the only night-time officer covering more than 250 square miles of Exmoor.

“Policing in country areas has been steadily downgraded since the first wave of village police station closures and it really should surprise nobody either that rural crime is on the up, or that increasingly farmers see little point in reporting theft and criminal damage because they know there is little chance of anything being done about it.

“But when people are actually living in fear in rural homes it is clear that a major redistribution of police resources is not only desirable but urgently required.”