Campaign urges more reporting of crime targeting agricultural communities

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By David Young

A new campaign has been launched to urge more people to report crime targeting agricultural and rural communities.

Stormont's departments of justice and agriculture have teamed up with the police and a range of farming organisations to highlight the message.

The independent charity Crimestoppers is encouraging anyone with information about thefts and other crimes to contact it anonymously.

The awareness campaign features outdoor advertising and social media initiatives.

The Rural Crime Partnership behind the idea includes representatives from the Department of Justice, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Ulster Farmers' Union, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, NFU Mutual and Young Farmers' Clubs.

Susan Brew, campaign manager for Crimestoppers in Northern Ireland, said: "Crimestoppers is an independent charity and I would like to ask anyone with information about rural crime to ring 0800 555111 and be assured that they will remain completely anonymous - no-one will ever know you made the call."

PSNI Superintendent Brian Kee, service lead for rural and wildlife crime said: "As part of our continuing work, the Rural Crime Partnership have been working very closely with Crimestoppers and very much welcomes the launch of this campaign which raises awareness of rural crime issues and encourages people to provide information anonymously. I would encourage people to come forward with information.

"I am acutely aware that rural crime has a significant impact on victims, and the economic losses caused by theft of property can have far reaching consequences for individuals, businesses and the economy.

"As a Police Service, we are also aware of the distinct set of circumstances facing a rural community, that's why it is important to do whatever we can and to work with our partners to provide the best possible service.

"Information received from Crimestoppers will be combined with intelligence from other sources to build a more detailed picture of rural crime in Northern Ireland, driving further focused prevention, investigation and enforcement activity by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Rural Crime Partnership and our partners and rural communities."

UFU president Barclay Bell added: "Rural crime has a significant impact on farm businesses and the wider local community. Victims are left feeling vulnerable and demoralised and it is an issue that must be tackled.

"We understand the impact crime against the farming community has on farmers, their families and their businesses. That is why we welcome the launch of this campaign."

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