11 April 1997

How holiday network helped catch a cheat

THE efficiency of Devon and Cornwall farmers wives has impressed the police and led to the arrest and extradition of a wanted man.

It began when a farmhouse bed and breakfast guest left Devon without paying his bill. But, as his hostess was efficient and fulfilled the legal requirements to the letter, he had completed a Farm Holiday Bureau registration form which also includes a space for onward destination.

The aggrieved farmers wife reported the incident and the mans details, including car number, to the police. Noting that he had booked with her through the Farm Holiday Bureau guide Stay on a Farm*. she contacted Cream of Cornwalls group contact as the man had indicated an intention to go on to Cornwall. That farm holiday groups "telephone tree" immediately sprung into action, speedily spreading the warning message by phone or fax to the 57 group members – one of whom discovered he was toasting his toes in her home!

This hostess contacted the Exeter police, and the man was not only arrested but extradited to Ireland to face other criminal charges. The police were so impressed with the networking they used the system to circulate details of another wanted person.

Besides providing customers with an excellent product, the Farm Holiday Bureau gives members strong support. Though each may be operating in the back of beyond, the group links not only ensure an efficient booking system but a certain amount of security too. AR

*Stay on a Farm a guide to quality farm accommodation, both bed and breakfast and self-catering, on more than 1000 farms throughout the UK is published by the Farm Holiday Bureau and available from bookshops at £6.95. Inquiries (01203-696909).