Forensic marking among rural crime training for young farmers

Forensic property marking is part of new police training that will be offered to young farmers in Cumbria to hit back against rural criminals and keep the county’s farming communities safe.

A unique training package is being created to show young farmers practical steps they can take to avoid becoming victims of crime, and there are plans to extend the scheme across the country.

The Police Crime Prevention Academy, Cumbria Young Farmers Club, and the Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association (NWA) have joined forces for the new initiative.

See also: Q&A with a rural policeman on crime prevention for farmers

The rural crime training will be piloted in Cumbria, with the intention of it joining the modules the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs offers to clubs in England and Wales.

Part of the training will see young farmers learn about forensic property marking – where a colourless liquid can be applied to valuable items such as ATVs or tractor GPS domes.

The solution glows under ultraviolet light and gives the items a unique “chemical code”, allowing police to detect it and return stolen property quicker.


Amanda Mulholland from the Police Crime Prevention Academy said: “The launch of this initiative in Cumbria is very timely as it reflects an increasing number of requests being received by the academy for rural crime training from police and for community organisations.”

Other parts of the training include trespass prevention, which Joe Murray, chairman of Cumbria NWA, said could help crack down on people who have been found on private land and suspected of being involved in rural crime.

“This initiative was used to good effect some years ago and can be likened to the same type of work that Pubwatch does: banned from one, banned from all private property,” said Mr Murray.

Robbie Tuer, Cumbria YFC county chairman, added: “Through the support and guidance offered by this initiative, our farming and rural communities and the people who live and work within them will have the opportunity to develop and thrive in a safe and secure environment.”

Rural insurer NFU Mutual, Crimestoppers and Cumbria Police are supporting the training.

Peter McCall, Cumbria’s police and crime commissioner, said: “The police do everything in their power to reduce crime in the county, but I always say it is a community effort and we all need to take steps to help ourselves, which is why this initiative has great potential.

“I look forward to seeing the results of the pilot – which I am sure will be a success.”

Defra rural crime figures

New statistics published by Defra show that average recorded crime rates are lower in rural areas than urban areas in England.

In 2021, the police-recorded rates of criminal damage and arson were lowest in mainly rural areas (defined as falling outside of settlements with more than 10,000 residents), with 537 offences per 100,000 population, and highest in urban areas, with 1,097 offences per 100,000 people.

For burglary, the police-recorded rate was 252 offences per 100,000 households in rural areas, compared with the highest rate of 1,049 recorded offences in urban areas.

But there was more crime recorded in 2021 than in 2020 in both environments, with a 2% increase in rural areas and an 8% increase in urban areas.

These increases were driven by crimes against persons (violence, harassment, sexual offences), whereas crimes against property and “morality” (residential burglary, drug offences, vehicle offences), were lower in 2021; this reflects the restrictions imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

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