Rural communities play an essential role in the local economy.
Thefts of livestock can not only hamper a farmer’s ability to do the job, but can cause significant upset, inconvenience and loss of income.
The police understand this and have been ‘up skilling’ officers to develop their knowledge in tackling rural crime.
Training is ongoing and by the time it is complete this summer, the majority of officers from the 13 Tactical Support Groups (TSG) and Roads Policing Units will have attended the training course.
The course concentrates on, not just the role of Department of Agricultural, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), but also on legislation, practicalities and problems the DAERA and PSNI officers face and ways in which they can work together in a partnership approach to combating rural crime.
Constable Paul Moore explained: “The PSNI have been working with a number of 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.
“We are eager to disrupt those who target farmers and others in the countryside.”
Talking about the course, Constable Moore said:“During the course, there is a packed agenda for the officers attending which starts off with a talk about the role of the Department of Agricultural, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) 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 also hear about the TB inspection regime and were told about common cattle breeds, including difference between pedigree and cross bred and how this affects value.
“We also made sure officers were aware of ‘cattle terminology’, body score and Fallen Stock Scheme.
“The police continue to work extremely closely with partner agencies such as the DAERA, but also DOJ and the UFU.
“The police service has also endeavoured to increase our engagement with the rural community through the Farmwatch scheme and this livestock familiarisation training will give officers much more confidence in dealing with livestock issues particularly theft.”
DAERA enforcement officer Gareth Bryson said: “DAERA Veterinary Service Animal Health Group (VSAHG) Welfare And Enforcement Branch (WAEB)has a positive working relationship with the PSNI.
“An important element of our joint-working is the sharing of information and my colleague Keith Scott and I welcome the opportunity to work with the PSNI in an effort to further reduce livestock crime.
“The training course provides an opportunity for PSNI officers, to not only improve their knowledge, but also gives them a 24/7 direct point of contact to liaise with DAERA on specific agricultural crime related issues.”