Shutting the gate on rural crime

PUBLISHED: 09:00 11 May 2014

Archant

A NEW police initiative is closing in on crime in the countryside by signing up 75 farms to its Farm Watch Scheme.

The Rural Crime Team has been out in force to tackle crooks who target farms and impact upon countryside communities.

Although the level of rural crime is falling, it still costs the UK £43million a year.

In one day, representatives of Avon and Somerset Constabulary visited more than 270 farms across Somerset and arrested a man for burglary.

Officers were also at markets, garden centres and stables to give advice on crime prevention and hand out property marking kits.

The Roads Policing Unit was conducting stop-checks along the M5 corridor looking for stolen property, illegal red diesel and gathering intelligence.

Superintendent Ian Wylie, the force lead on rural crime, and Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens joined the new Rural Crime Team to oversee its official launch.

Supt Wylie said: “The day of action was really positive and successful.

“We are primarily a rural police force and we need to respond to the needs of our communities.

“We understand rural crime has a huge impact on individuals and the local economy.”

The team will be working with external organisations such as the National Farmers’ Union to share information and identify key issues.

Supt Wylie said: “We know that while the theft or damage to an electric fence or battery might have a relatively low direct cost, the implications of the fence being down and the consequences in terms of livestock and crops can be huge.”

Ms Mountstevens added: “The introduction of the Rural Crime Team comes at the perfect time with many residents and farmers expressing their desire to engage and work more closely with the police.

“I believe this new team and focused days of action will build on the invaluable work already undertaken by the police’s dedicated officers, staff and volunteers.”

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