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More Must Be Done to Tackle Agricultural Crime, Says Committee

The Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has acknowledged the work of the PSNI in tackling agricultural crime and has called for the level of focus on this issue to be sustained. Yesterday’s call follows a briefing to the Committee from the PSNI on farming and rural crime, which included an update on rural crime statistics and the work of the PSNI’s Rural Crime Unit. 

Speaking after yesterday’s meeting, Committee Chairperson Paul Frew said: “When people think of crime, they often think of crime in cities and towns. What can sometimes be forgotten is how crime impacts on farming and rural communities. For people living in those communities, it can cause huge distress and feelings of isolation.

“Farming and rural crime can take many forms, from illegal dumping of waste to burglaries and theft of farming equipment. Today’s briefing from the PSNI provided us with a useful overview of the types of crime that are being committed in our countryside and where they are occurring. It also gave us an important opportunity to raise a number of key concerns such as the effectiveness of the Tracker and Cesar security devices used to recover stolen machinery.  We were also keen to hear more on the progress of the Rural Crime Unit.

Mr Frew concluded: “This is by no means the last briefing the Committee will have on this issue. We will remain focused on the measures being used to tackle farming and rural crime to ensure that they are proactive, fit for purpose and effective. The Committee, like those living in the countryside, needs to be assured that farming and rural crime is being treated as seriously as crime in urban areas.”

Committee Deputy Chairperson Joe Byrne MLA said: “The theft of machinery, livestock or diesel from a farm is not just an inconvenience for farmers; it has a direct bearing on their livelihood and their ability to provide for their families.

“Burglaries and fear of crime can leave rural dwellers feeling isolated and vulnerable, particularly elderly people. What is needed is targeted, robust action, and as a Committee, we will continue to press the PSNI and other agencies to ensure that they are doing all within their power to tackle farming and rural crime head on.”

The Committee also noted its concern about the recent incidents on the illegal slaughter of cattle and the illegal movement of milk and highlighted the need for the Rural Crime Unit to allocate all available resources to tackle these crimes head on.

Notes to Editors:

Committee Membership:

Mr Paul Frew MLA – Chairperson

Mr Joe Byrne MLA – Deputy Chairperson

Mr Thomas Buchanan MLA

Mrs Judith Cochrane MLA

Mrs Jo-Anne Dobson MLA

Mr William Irwin MLA

Mr Declan McAleer MLA

Miss Michelle McIlveen MLA

Mr Oliver McMullan MLA

Mr Ian Milne MLA

Mr Robin Swann MLA

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