A DAY of Action has been carried out by police across the UK, including the PSNI, as part of an effort to get tough on rural crime.
The Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) UK-wide initiative — ‘Day of Action against Rural Crime’ — took place on Thursday, November 8 and included all policing districts throughout Northern Ireland and involved officers conducting searches, VCPs and carrying out engagement opportunities with partner agencies, during the operation.
It comes as the latest crime figures for Northern Ireland show that rural crime is continuing in the downward trend seen since 2010/11.
In the 12 months from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018, there were 392 agricultural crimes recorded in the Province, representing a fall of 169 on the previous 12 months.
However, there is still much more which can be done to drive crime further down and police have made a good start with the series of activities undertaken for the “Day of Action”.
As part of this, police officers and crime prevention officers visited a number of farms and Ulster Farmers’ Union offices throughout NI to talk about crime prevention and encourage the farming community to sign up to the Farm Watch Scheme.
In Mid Ulster, officers carried out VCPs and liaised with colleagues from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). They also handed out crime prevention packs at Granville Mart in Dungannon.
Meanwhile, in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area officers carried out VCPs and patrols in hot-spot areas.
In Newry, officers held a crime prevention seminar, which was attended by a number of agri food producers, while officers in Ards and North Down visited farms and spoke with farmers in the area.
Officers also visited Draperstown Mart and Plumbridge Sheep Mart to talk to farmers about rural crime prevention.
Meanwhile free trailer marking events were hosted by Waterside Neighbourhood Policing Team in Londonderry, and Ballycastle Neighbourhood Team at Dunserverick.
Rural and agricultural crime is a serious issue and police understand the concerns of those who have been directly involved.
It is important to stress that the PSNI takes a robust approach in tackling all crime, including those which affect the rural community.
Outlining the aims of the police operation, Supt Brian Kee said:
“Police want to work towards reducing opportunities for this type of crime by increasing public awareness, working with other partner agencies to identify ways of preventing crime, and targeting and arresting those committing such offences.
“During the operation, officers from a number of policing districts throughout Northern Ireland visited farm properties, gave advice on protecting property, and worked with our colleagues in DAERA and HMRC, inspecting vehicles and conducting VCPs in a number of areas.
“Rural and agriculture crime affects more than just those people who are direct victims; it impacts on jobs, the environment and the economy.
“It is a concern for all of us and I would therefore ask for assistance from the public in providing information that may support us in continuing to prevent crime and arresting those individuals or gangs that carry out offences within rural communities.
“The prevention and detection of rural and agricultural crime continues every day to support the rural community and we are keen to work with them to address this issue.
“Criminals may see rural areas as easy targets and I want to assure them they are anything but. Operations like this enable us to gather intelligence about travelling criminals and ultimately, bring them to justice. We want to send out a very clear message to criminals that we will not tolerate such activity.”
Members of the public can help protect themselves and their rural property from crime by following some simple crime prevention steps.