Rise in Rural Crime costs rural economy £2.6m
Wednesday, 8 August, 2018
Ulster Farmers’ Union Legislation Chairman, James O’Brien, has warned that rural crime remains a big issue for Northern Ireland. The rural insurer, NFU Mutual, says theft losses were £2.6 million in 2017.
“Rural crime has a lasting impact on farming families, who can literally find their livelihoods threatened overnight. Criminals are sophisticated in the homes and businesses they target. They are selective about what they take and will not think twice about targeting the same farm again, sometimes within days. The net result is that across all rural areas people now feel isolated and vulnerable in their own homes,” said Mr O’Brien.
In the past, the UFU has expressed concern that rural crime and its consequences are not treated with sufficient seriousness when criminals are brought before the courts. It warns that these are far from victimless crimes and underlines that while farmers have a responsibility to protect their own property there are limits to what they can do. “This reflects the nature and layout of farm. The opportunist thief can be deterred, but with many thefts now from locked buildings criminals are using increasingly sophisticated methods to gain access,” he said.
The Legislation Chairman said he welcomed targeted initiatives, including trailer marking, freeze branding livestock and the use of tracker devices on tractors and other machinery. He also said there were welcome signs that Crimestoppers and the PSNI had a greater focus on rural crime. “That said, we remain deeply unhappy that despite the efforts farmers take to protect their property and the PSNI targeting of rural criminals the sentences courts impose do not reflect the scale of this threat to rural life and livelihoods,” said Mr O’Brien.