Police host H District rural crime conference

The PSNI held its first Rural Crime Conference recently in the Braid Centre, Ballymena.

The event, planned jointly with District Policing Partnerships and supported by the Ulster Farmer’s Union, provided an opportunity to raise awareness of how the rural community can work together to reduce crime, reduce the opportunities for criminals and reduce the fear of crime.

Community representatives and those working in the agricultural industry from across H District (Larne, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Moyle and Coleraine) heard about how to safeguard against crime whilst influencing the future of policing in their neighbourhoods.

Attendees also discussed the impact of rural crime and there were examples of how farmers could help themselves and work with the police to take crime prevention steps.

Superintendent Ryan Henderson said: “Tackling crime against the rural community is a major priority for police in our District. We understand the effect these crimes have on the communities and the grave impact they can have on farmers’ livelihoods.

“Local Neighbourhood Police Officers and Crime Prevention Officers have been working very closely with farmers across all areas, to tackle crime and offer support and advice on how to make their farms more secure.

“Text alert schemes are being operated by police to warn farmers of incidents in their areas and trailer marking events are scheduled at livestock markets over the coming months. Police continue to urge members of the community to immediately report anything untoward in their neighbourhoods, unknown vehicles outside premises or on neighbouring land, and note down any important details such as a description or vehicle registration. Police follow up all calls and there is every possibility that prompt information could prevent a crime.”

Supt Henderson added that criminals are always on the lookout for valuable items that they can easily re-sell, which is why farmers need to have a crime prevention policy in place to severely limit the number of opportunities for thefts to occur in and around the farmyard, at out buildings, and in their fields.

“Rural crime is tackled successfully when everyone – police, the farming community, elected representatives – works alongside each other.

The aim of the conference was to provide a forum for these groups to come together and discuss the current issues and help us formulate an effective joint strategy for the future,” Supt Henderson concluded.