Union launches survey of stolen livestock

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union has launched a survey to the farming community seeking their views on how best to combat livestock theft.

The short questionnaire asks what measures farmers currently use to help prevent livestock theft and what measures they would realistically consider taking.

It also asks how much farmers would be willing to spend on measures to mitigate the risk of livestock theft.

UFU Deputy President Barclay Bell said: “This is building on the very successful conference we hosted in November on tackling rural crime. Now that we have raised the profile of the issue we are getting down to the nuts and bolts of building an evidence base for how we can find solutions to the issue.”

One of the most memorable moments from the Rural Crime Conference in November 2014 was the revelation that the PSNI are aware of a criminal gang which has moved from drug trafficking to livestock theft and figures released by the NFU Mutual in 2014 showed that Northern Ireland was the worst area in the UK for the theft of livestock.

As well as this, it has proved an extremely difficult issue to find solutions to.

Mr Bell continued: “Our discussions with other stakeholders have shown that livestock theft remains the toughest issue to crack in terms of finding effective methods of crime prevention.

“There are many good schemes and products in place for preventing machinery theft, but you can’t easily fit a tracking device to your prize bull. So, in order to move this forward we have decided to ask farmers themselves.

“I would encourage farmers to fill in the questionnaire and return it to UFU HQ, and just as importantly, I’d ask that other stakeholders, including political representatives, throw their weight behind this and encourage people to respond so that our evidence base is as strong as possible.”

Copies of the survey are available from UFU Headquarters or in any of the UFU Group Offices.

The closing date for the survey is 25th May and completed surveys should be returned to: Livestock Theft Survey, Ulster Farmers’ Union. 475 Antrim Road, Belfast BT15 3DA.