The Ulster Farmers’ Union is asking its members to complete a short survey in order to gain an understanding of how its members view the issue of rural crime and the official response they receive when reporting incidences.
Deputy president, Victor Chestnutt, says that while rural crime tends to be lumped together as a single problem it varies greatly in terms of cost and the psychological impact on farming families.
“At one level it’s about petty pilfering and opportunist theft. However, what really unsettles people in remote areas are planned thefts of machinery or livestock. Another unwelcome addition to this problem is when it involves violence or threats to families,” said the UFU deputy president.
The UFU says that while it recognises the efforts of the PSNI and the Rural Crime Partnership in recent years, they are limited in terms of the resources they have available when it comes to controlling a problem, which has proved itself as being a major scourge on our countryside. Mr Chestnutt continued: “Despite these efforts farmers continue to remain disappointed that when criminals are brought before the courts, sentences imposed upon them rarely reflect the impact of these crimes.”
“This is why we are undertaking this survey and encouraging as many members as possible to take part. We want to establish how many families have been victims of rural crime, where in Northern Ireland these crimes occurred and whether there is a pattern as regards the value of the items stolen. We want to know more about people’s experience of reporting these crimes to the PSNI and why some people choose not to report these crimes, and whether that reflects a belief that they are not taken seriously.” You can access the survey by visiting: www.ufuni.org