Union launches 2014 rural crime conference

David Ford MLA and Barclay Bell, deputy president of the Ulster Farmers' Union. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

David Ford MLA and Barclay Bell, deputy president of the Ulster Farmers' Union. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union has announced that registration is now open for the Union’s first official rural crime conference entitled ‘Tackling Rural Crime in Northern Ireland – Working Together’.

This free event will take place on 4th November 2014 at the Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast and aims to raise awareness about rural crime, in particular agri-crime, share examples of best practice in dealing with rural crime, and enhance working relationships across all stakeholders.

The conference is open to anyone with an interest in tackling rural crime but we would particularly like to welcome farmers, rural police officers, rural crime prevention officers, and members from the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships.

UFU deputy president Barclay Bell said: “Rural crime continues to be a major issue for farmers across Northern Ireland with machinery, equipment, and livestock prime targets for thieves.

“At a cost of £3.9 million in Northern Ireland in 2013, a 15% rise on 2012, clearly more needs to be done to tackle this crucial issue. We recognise that a conference is not going to solve everything in relation to rural crime but it’s a starting point and by bringing the key players together such as farmers, PSNI, An Garda Siochana, DARD, and the Department of Justice we hope to find a way to move forward on tackling this problem.

“We are delighted to welcome Nick Payne from the Rural Services Network in England as our keynote speaker, who earlier this year launched a National Rural Crime Network across England and Wales aimed at helping to share and co-ordinate best practice in tackling rural crime across policing districts.”

Justice Minister David Ford said in support of the conference; “I recognise that there are ongoing concerns about levels of agri-crime amongst the farming community, and the financial and emotional impact which this type of crime has on the rural community.

“I welcome the UFU’s commitment to addressing agricultural crime, and their recognition that tackling this type of crime can only be achieved through effective partnership working and would encourage key stakeholders and the wider farming community to avail of this opportunity to play their part in protecting their property and businesses.”

‘Tackling Rural Crime in Northern Ireland – Working Together’ is sponsored by the Department of Justice and is a free full day event with lunch provided for attendees. For more information about the conference and to book your place please contact UFU headquarters on 028 9037 0222.