The Ulster Farmers’ Union is encouraging farmers to report all incidents of rural crime to the PSNI, as and when they occur. UFU deputy president, Ivor Ferguson said too often rural crime goes unreported. “The problem of under-reporting becomes clear when you look at the PSNI statistics. With many incidences of rural crime going unreported, the PSNI does not have an accurate picture as to the scale of the problem and when resources are allocated, they are diverted elsewhere.”
Ferguson said: “Unfortunately the countryside and farmers remain soft targets for criminals. The UFU will continue to press the PSNI to focus more resources into solving crimes in the countryside. We recognise that individual police officers do their best to engage with farmers within the limits of the budgetary restraints forced on them. However, those who draw up those budgets must recognise that rural areas are exposed and deserve as much protection as towns and cities in Northern Ireland.”
Rural crime cost the Northern Ireland economy approximately £2.5 million in 2016. A frustration for farmers is that when those charged with rural crimes appear before the courts, the sentences handed down, fail to reflect the impact of their crimes.
“The judiciary needs to realise that losing livestock, equipment or farm vehicles can have a devastating effect on farmers, leaving them feeling upset and isolated in their own homes. The Department of Justice needs to amend sentencing guidelines for the courts. These are crimes that need to be taken seriously because of the social and economic damage they create,” said Ferguson.
The UFU would urge farmers to report all incidents, no matter how small. Reporting crime can be done in a number of ways:
- Dial 999 in an emergency
- Visit your local Police Station
- Dial 101 in a non-emergency situation
- Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111