PSNI officers have been ‘up-skilling’ in their bid to combat crime in rural areas.
A number of PSNI officers from Dungannon and South Tyrone, Magherafelt and Co Armagh took part in an intensive two-day training course, which was facilitated by PSNI Inspector Keith Jamieson and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).
Both the police and DARD officials have hailed the potential benefits of the partnership.
Insp Jamieson explained: “The PSNI in Dungannon have been working with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and other agencies to find ways to disrupt and hamper the work of would-be criminals. Giving officers the knowledge and skills to disrupt criminals is one way of addressing this issue.”
The course saw officers introduced to many key aspects of farming, particularly those involving livestock.
Commenting on the course content, Insp. Jamieson said: “There was a packed agenda for the officers which started off with a talk about the role of DARD delivering a short presentation on ear-tagging procedures and the Aphis system. We were then given the opportunity to view movement permits so that officers could make themselves familiar with these.
“Officers heard about the TB inspection regime and were told about common cattle breeds, including difference between pedigree and cross bred and how this affects value.”
Officers also learned ‘cattle terminology’, body score and details of the Fallen Stock Scheme. Day two saw officers visit a livestock Mart and observed TB testing. They also heard about what to look out for, in terms of livestock movements, when stopping a vehicle.
Insp Jamieson added: “I wish to give an assurance that there is no acceptable level of crime in the rural community or indeed elsewhere, and for the PSNI, one victim, is one victim too many. I hope this training will give officers the insight to understand and tackle this scourge on rural communities and the training will be made available to other officers in the coming months.”
DARD’s chief vet Robert Huey welcomed the strong partnership approach to tackling rural crime, which he said showed a ‘clear commitment’ from DARD and the PSNI to tackle livestock crime.
He said: “We are very sensitive to the real impact such crime has on the rural community as well as undermining animal traceability and the immediate threat to the health and welfare of our livestock.
“We will continue to support such efforts to tackle these thefts and track down the criminals behind them.”
Mr Heuy gave a stark example of how rural crime can impact on farmers.
“The farming community is vulnerable and often have livestock on remote out-farms,” he explained.
“A farmer might have cattle ready for market, maybe valued at £1,200 each, and he loses 10 of them to thieves. That is a major loss considering the farmer would only have been working with a marginal profit.
“That can put a farmer out of business,” he added.