The North Antrim MLA who chairs the Assemby committee on Agriculture and Rural Development has called on police to maintain their focus on rural crime.
Paul Frew, who first highlighted the growing conderns and fears of farmers in an exclusive interview with the Ballymena Times which prompted a province-wide debate, was speaking after a briefing to the Committee from the PSNI on farming and rural crime.
The briefing included an update on rural crime statistics and the work of the PSNI’s Rural Crime Unit.
The DUP man 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.”