ANTRIM police have launched a new initiative aimed at tackling rural crime and helping the rural community protect itself from criminals.
‘Farm Watch’, which has been developed in partnership with the Antrim Police and Community Safety Partnership and the local farming community, aims to promote the importance of being vigilant and the need for improved communication - both within rural and farming communities and between rural communities and the PSNI.
In addition to being part of a text and email alert scheme, farmers and rural dwellers who sign up to Farm Watch will receive specific `Farm Watch` roadside/property signage to act as a deterrent to would-be intruders.
They will also be able to avail of uniquely coded property marking for farm machinery. Property marking makes it harder for thieves to dispose of stolen machinery AND makes it easier for police to return any recovered items to their rightful owners.
Practical crime prevention advice is also available from police and crime prevention officers to farmers and landowners, to help ensure that property and equipment are as secure as possible.
Membership of Farm Watch also asks farmers make a few commitments to help make the most of the scheme.Among those is for farmers to take it upon themselves to put up the roadside /property signage and mark farm machinery with the unique code within seven days of receipt.
Farmers must also agree to display a house number at the roadside entrance to their property (even if this at the bottom of a long laneway) so the emergency services can identify homes in any time of need, and to report any suspicious activity to police.
Antrim Area Commander Chief Inspector Natalie Wilson said: “The farming fraternity is a very important part of our community, and Antrim police are keen to reassure them that we are doing all we can to prevent thefts. “Thefts of farm machinery or livestock can not only hamper a farmer’s ability to do their job but can cause significant upset, inconvenience and loss of income. “
The Farm Watch scheme is also endorsed by the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise at Greenmount. Farm Director Manus McHenry said, “CAFRE fully supports Farm Watch and its overall aim in reducing crime within the farming community.”
Chairman of Antrim Policing and Community Safety Partnership Cllr Trevor Clarke MLA commented: “The Farm Watch Scheme has been designed to effectively address the worrying increase in the thefts of plants, machinery and livestock from farms and rural properties. Potential thieves and burglars often prey on isolated rural properties and this scheme will provide practical assistance to farmers to prevent the crime in the first place and to assist with detections. I would encourage all farmers in the area to avail of this opportunity.”
Chief Inspector Wilson added: “At a local level there has been a lot of co-operation between the PSNI and farmers and I hope that with the introduction of Farm Watch local farmers will feel reassured that we are taking their concerns seriously and are making a concerted effort to reduce rural crime in the Antrim area.”
You can download Farm Watch Application Forms from www.psni.police.uk/index/d-district/d_district_community_safety.htm