The NFU and CLA have encouraged Thames Valley Police to continue working closely with farmers and landowners when tackling all forms of rural crime.
The two organisations held an annual liaison meeting last week with Thames Valley Police Chief Constable John Campbell and Assistant Chief Constable Christian Bunt. It was hosted outdoors and at a safe distance on 29 October, before the latest lockdown, on a farm in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire.
The meeting considered the force’s approach to policing, focusing on results and examining ways that farmers and landowners can work in partnership with police. Current concerns include thefts from farms, especially GPS kits, trespass and hare coursing. Also discussed were two other perennial problems – livestock worrying, when dogs chase and/or attack sheep and cattle, and fly-tipping – which both escalated during the first lockdown earlier this year.
NFU South East Regional Director William White said: “We had a positive and open discussion about police processes, such as call handling and the deployment of officers in the event of a rural crime being in progress. We also heard of a number of successful arrests of hare coursers, exchanging views on how farmers and landowners can work together more effectively with Thames Valley Police. Farmers and growers have a big part to play in reporting crimes and suspicious incidents no matter how insignificant they may appear– it all adds to the intelligence being gathered. It is vital that farmers also take steps to protect their equipment effectively, through security marking and by keeping accurate records.”
CLA South East Regional Director Michael Valenzia said: “We welcome the work of Thames Valley Police’s rural crime team; rural areas experience complex issues and we would encourage the force to resource them accordingly using PCSOs or police constables, as well as using ANPR and other technology to catch and deter criminals.
“Many farmers and landowners have seen a rise in issues since lockdown, especially around livestock worrying linked to increased access and a lack of knowledge of the countryside among a minority of visitors.
“The CLA has been actively promoting the Countryside Code and has called on the Education Secretary to reintroduce it onto the school curriculum. We ask that the police play their part and prioritise fighting rural crimes such as dog and equipment theft, fly-tipping, hare coursing and poaching across Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire.
“It is imperative that all victims of crime report incidents, to help the police build up a more complete picture and then resource the issues accordingly.
“We thank the police for their hard work and offer our support in what will be some very challenging months ahead.”
Also at the meeting were Robert Ruck-Keene, CLA Bucks Chairman; Andrew Gardiner, CLA Berks Chairman; Roddie Feilden, CLA Oxon Chairman; Berks, Bucks and Oxon NFU adviser Georgia Craig. The meeting was hosted by Berks, Bucks and Oxon NFU council delegate Ian Waller.