Farmers and residents of rural communities across Northern Ireland are being urged to give their support to a new initiative aimed at tackling rural crime.
The Rural Crime Partnership (RCP), which represents a number of bodies including the Ulster Farmers’ Union, PSNI and the Department of Justice, is spearheading the campaign which is encouraging people to report rural crimes to Crimestoppers.
The campaign, which was launched at a busy Markethill Livestock Mart yesterday morning, will feature outdoor advertising and have a significant presence on social media.
However, it is clear that any effort to reduce rural crime must involve significant contribution from the community and farmers themselves.
Speaking on behalf of the RCP, PSNI Superintendent Brian Kee, service lead for rural and wildlife crime said: “As part of our continuing work, the Rural Crime Partnership have been working very closely with Crimestoppers and very much welcomes the launch of this campaign which raises awareness of rural crime issues and encourages people to provide information anonymously. I would encourage people to come forward with information.
“I am acutely aware that rural crime has a significant impact on victims, and the economic losses caused by theft of property can have far reaching consequences for individuals, businesses and the economy. As a Police Service, we are also aware of the distinct set of circumstances facing a rural community, that’s why it is important to do whatever we can and to work with our partners to provide the best possible service.”
Supt. Kee added: “Information received from Crimestoppers will be combined with intelligence from other sources to build a more detailed picture of rural crime in Northern Ireland, driving further focused prevention, investigation and enforcement activity by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Rural Crime Partnership and our partners and rural communities.”
This campaign has the full support of the Ulster Farmers’ Union and its president Barclay Bell was unequivocal in his message to the farming community - ‘If you’ve seen it, heard or it, then speak up’.
“Rural crime has a significant impact on farm businesses and the wider local community. Victims are left feeling vulnerable and demoralised and it is an issue that must be tackled,” said Mr Bell.
“We understand the impact crime against the farming community has on farmers, their families and their businesses. That is why we welcome the launch of this campaign.”
Mr Bell also advised farmers to take steps to prevent crime. “Don’t wait for crime to happen. Have a look around your premises, and try to do so with a thief’s eye, looking for vulnerable spots and areas in permanent darkness,” he added.
The UFU president added that it was vital farmers report anyone acting suspiciously or any suspicious vehicles, to the PSNI on 101 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.