Royal Welsh: Police seek farmer views on rural crime

The most rural police force in England and Wales is seeking new ideas for ways to crack down on rural crime.

The police and crime commissioner for Dyfed and Powys, Christopher Salmon, said the devolution of policing was a “great opportunity” to tackle rural crime, without “clumsy central targets that often get in the way,” he said.

Mr Salmon was speaking at the launch of a six-week consultation aimed at finding out how the public wants the area to be policed, and called for farmers from the region to get in touch with their views and ideas.

The challenges of policing in the countryside were just as valid as those in cities, said Mr Salmon.

“Our problem though is not the volume of crime or gangs, like it might be in central Manchester. Our challenge is geography.”

Mr Salmon said that was why supporting Farm Watch groups was a priority, and there were opportunities to improve communication between them, as well as implement technology to make them more efficient.

“What we need to do is make them more systematic and more wide-reaching.

“The challenge is maintaining them, so they don’t drop off when someone moves on,” added Mr Salmon, who said that the force would look at providing better infrastructure to stop this happening.

Simon Prince, chief constable for the region, told Farmers Weekly that cutting the level of on-farm crime was crucial.

“Farm crime accounts for low numbers, but each crime can have a devastating effect on an individual’s livelihood,” said Mr Prince. “We understand that. That’s a key example of why we have to look beyond numbers.”

Bernard Llewellyn, chairman of NFU Cymru’s rural affairs board, urged local farmers to make their views known during the consultation period.

Farmers can feed their views to Dyfed-Powys Police at www.dyfed-powys.police.uk/en/have-your-say

Farm Watch drive

North Wales Police also launched a drive at the Royal Welsh Show to get farmers signed up to its Farm Watch scheme, and the similar schemes run by the other three Welsh police forces.

PCSO Michelle Williams, who works in North Wales Police’s community safety department, said that Farm Watch was all about sharing knowledge with other farmers, as well as the police.

“Farmers often have a great deal of capital spread over a large expanse of land.

“Whilst property can never be made totally secure, becoming a Farm Watch member will reduce the risk of becoming a victim of farm crime.”

Those who sign up to Farm Watch, which is a free service, receive:

  • Regular and practical crime-prevention advice
  • An SMS text messaging service keeping members updated with the latest crime trends and any suspicious activity reported in their area.

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