Police and farmers join forces to tackle Melton's rural criminals
Farmers in the Melton area are being urged to report all criminal activity to help the county police force’s dedicated rural policing team tackle offenders.
Leicestershire officers attended a rural crime prevention and security event today (Friday) on a farm at Somerby.
They spoke with farm workers and employees from other countryside businesses about how to thwart crime by improving security.
And farmers were advised to ensure police are aware of thefts, criminal damage and other crimes on their property, no matter how big or small.
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Saya Harvey, chair of Melton Mowbray branch of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), which represents 250 members, told the Melton Times: “One of the main problems is that farmers sometimes just accept it when they are victims of crime.
“If they report it, it becomes more important and the police will get involved in investigating it.
“We are working with members to report incidents, however small they may be.
“We are competing against criminal investigations in urban areas so it is important to let police know when we suffer crimes in the countryside because they are important too.”
Saya, who works on her family’s Manor Farm and the associated Manor Farm Feeds business at Owston, added: "Events like this are very important in getting the message across and it is absolutely fantastic to see so many police officers here today showing an interest and giving advice.
“Crime is creeping up the agenda for us as an NFU branch and we want to do all we can to prevent it happening.”
Attendees were also able to chat to members of the NFU Mutual Melton Mowbray, which provides financial and insurance services to rural businesses, including farms.
Senior group secretary, Sarah Procter, outlined the types of crimes which are particularly plaguing those working in the countryside.
“Theft is a big one, particularly quad bikes and tools, things farmers rely on for their profession,” she said.
“Another major one is hare coursing. It’s the threat from undesirables hanging around on someone’s land and then maybe stealing from farms.
“Arson attacks are another concern – people are starting to get concerned about their straw stacks going up in flames.
“The cost of agricultural equipment is going up so that is a target for thieves and things like GPS systems on tractors can sometimes be stolen.”
Pc Rob Cross, a member of the county’s rural policing team, said it was often the case that a small number of offenders were often responsible for patterns of crime in the countryside. When they are arrested there are other small criminal networks who often then prey on farms and other businesses.
"There are already networks in place where farmers are in contact through WhatsApp groups, for example, and we want them to tell us about crimes as well as telling each other,” said Pc Cross.
“It’s important because perhaps something which happens in North West Leicestershire may also then happen in the Melton district as well.”
Pc Cross is a former chair of Leicestershire Young Farmers and says the knowledge he has as well as that of other rural police colleagues can be valuable.
"We don’t want to undermine what local policing teams are doing but we are there to step in where needed to focus on rural incidents,” he added.