The PSNI’s latest agricultural and rural crime statistics show a 11% fall in the number of crimes recorded in rural communities.
However the Ulster Farmers’ Union have been cautious in their response claiming the figures may not ‘paint the full picture’ believing that some crimes in rural areas go unreported.
PSNI Supt. Brian Kee said that while they take the position that one crime against the rural community is one too many, it is encouraging to note that, according to the latest quarterly update, there has been a 11% reduction in agri crime in 2017 compared with 2016 and a 47% reduction since 2010/11.
He added: “Statistics only tell part of the story. They do not account for the severe impact theft can have on a farming business, family and community. There is no acceptable level of crime in the rural community or indeed elsewhere. And for PSNI, one victim is one too many.
“We know from our work with victims of crime that every incident has an impact on individuals, families and the community as a whole. Police remain committed to keeping people safe and we will work hard with the community and partner agencies into the future, including the Rural Crime Partnership, PCSPs, An Gardaí Siochana and a number of other agencies. We remain committed to working with the farming community to drive this figure down even further.
“We are not complacent, we continue to seek ways in which to disrupt and detect criminals who target rural communities. For instance, we are concerned at an apparent increase in the theft of quads in the first few weeks of 2018. We would ask members of the public to report anything suspicious to police as soon as possible,” he added.
“We understand thefts such as these can have a detrimental effect on a farming business. Spending a bit of time reviewing your security will go a long way to helping reduce your chance of becoming a victim of crime. We also want to work with you to prevent thefts, and offer free advice from your local crime prevention officer. Ring 101 for more information.
“If possible please keep quads etc. out of sight and kept in a secure shed and apply locks and chains to ensure they are secure. Always remove the keys. GPS systems can also be fitted to quads.
“We would ask that if you notice something which does not look right, are aware of machinery or equipment being moved at odd times phone police on the 101 number as soon as possible.”
In its response to the latest figures, the Ulster Farmers’ Union said they were ‘encouraging’ but urged the PSNI not to become complacent.
UFU legislation committee chairman James O’Brien said: “Rural crime is often under reported so while the PSNI’s figures are encouraging, they may not paint the full picture of what is actually happening on the ground. I would urge the PSNI not to become complacent and to make rural crime and rural communities a priority.
“Rural crime is unacceptable in any capacity and the impacts are devastating for any farmer and rural family. Victims are often left feeling vulnerable and demoralised and there is also the financial cost to consider as well.
“I would encourage farmers to remain vigilant and to review the security arrangements on their farms. The UFU will continue to work with farmers and the PSNI to ensure that rural crime continues to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”
The Union also issued details of a number of simple things farmers can do to protect their livestock, machinery and equipment.
These include reporting all incidences of theft and any suspicious behaviour to the PSNI; ensuring premises are well lit; and gates and doors are securely locked. UFU members can avail of discounts on a number of security products such as Tracker; Data Tag; Block Stem and Guard Cam, which can help protect property, livestock, equipment and machinery from thieves.