The Home Office has awarded almost £40,000 to the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN).

Backed by 28 Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) across England and Wales, the aim of the network is to act as a collaborative think tank, researching and implementing ways to reduce rural crime.

See also: Police commissioners unite to fight crime

Based online, the NRCN will provide information and support for rural communities by encouraging direct interaction between businesses, organisations and the police.

It will also enable the rapid sharing of best practice and information between these groups by hosting discussion groups and “webinars”. These will give members a chance to contribute to, and comment on, ideas with their peers and other NRCN members.

The NCRN, which is led by North Yorkshire PCC Julia Mulligan, has been granted £39,200 from the Home Office’s Police Innovation Fund – a £50m fund for projects that encourage collaboration between emergency services and communities.

Policing minister Mike Penning said: “The network will help support rural communities and businesses that are all too often targeted by ruthless criminals who consider homes and property in the countryside an easy target.

“This collaborative approach between North Yorkshire Police and dozens of PCCs around England and Wales will enable forces and neighbourhoods to become more resilient in preventing these crimes and protecting businesses and communities in rural areas.”

In addition to working with National Neighbourhood Watch and Crimestoppers, the NCRN will encourage the development of strong links between national policing leads for rural and wildlife crime, for heritage crime, and for interested organisations such as the NFU and Farmers Weekly.

The Home Office believes greater collaboration between the emergency services will improve standards and drive out inefficiencies. Many PCCs are exploring opportunities for integration. The government wants to see more of this and the funding will support such innovation.

NRCN chairwoman and Yorkshire PCC Julia Mulligan said: “I am delighted by this tremendous official endorsement for this vital initiative.

“Once fully operational, the network will help enable a better response to the problems of rural crime and anti-social behaviour. This novel concept brings together more than 68% of the PCCs across England and Wales with other organisations in the fight against rural crime.

“This network ensures we give these crimes the focus and attention they deserve.”