Rural crime continues to be a growing concern in the United Kingdom, with farms, rural businesses, and countryside properties becoming increasingly vulnerable to criminal activity. The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has reported that rural crime costs the UK’s rural economy around £50 million each year, with the emotional impact on victims being just as significant.
In response to this issue, County Durham based FarmWatcherUK has emerged nationally as a leading rural crime network. Now entering its tenth year, this volunteer run organisation works tirelessly to raise awareness of crime in rural areas by providing a network for farmers and rural businesses to share information and advice. In addition to their website, FarmWatcherUK leverages social media to amplify rural crime alerts fast to over 100k followers. With a Facebook reach of up to 2.5 million per month, FarmWatcherUK ensures that crucial information is shared quickly and widely to help prevent rural crime.
The organisation’s database of over 2000 alerts of reported rural crimes allows members to stay informed about crime trends in their area, helping to prevent crime before it occurs.
Andrea Stephenson, founder of FarmWatcherUK said “Our database of rural crime alerts is now well over 2000, all of which are sourced and disseminated by volunteers. To speed up this process, FarmWatcherUK would welcome the opportunity to work together with police forces across the UK to gather and share these alerts quickly. By working together, we can ensure that rural communities are protected from the effects of crime.
The partnership between FarmWatcherUK and the police would be mutually beneficial. The police would have access to a network of farmers and rural businesses who are already on the lookout for criminal activity. This would enable them to respond quickly and efficiently to reports of suspicious behaviour.
FarmWatcherUK, on the other hand, would benefit from the increased resources and expertise of the police force. This would allow us to better understand the nature of rural crime and develop more effective strategies to prevent it.
The partnership would send a strong message to criminals that rural communities are not an easy target. It would demonstrate that us, the police and the rural community are working together to protect property and livelihoods from criminal activity.”
Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham said “Rural crime is a blight on our local towns and villages here in North West Durham as well as right across the country. It can impact on insurance premiums, food prices and damage local communities because it is often not reported. We must do more to raise awareness about the numerous issues this poses to our farmers. Due to international economic turbulence, domestic food production is more important now than ever, so I want to support our farming community to the hilt. In addition to the much-needed reforms to farming subsidy schemes and government support for farmers, initiatives like FarmWatcherUK are essential so I am delighted to see it taking off.”
Superintendent Andy Huddleston, NPCC Rural Crime Co-Ordinator/Strategic lead for theft of construction & agricultural machinery said “I am fully supportive of the role FarmWatcherUK has in bringing our rural communities together in helping make where we live and work safer and crime free. I believe it is an excellent platform from which the rural community, not just farmers, can share both information concerning rural crime but also good practice. Social media is massively powerful and is very much at the forefront of modern prevention and detection of crime particularly in rural areas.”
Rural crime is a serious issue in the UK, and the NFU’s figures show the extent of the problem. However, organisations like FarmWatcherUK are working hard to combat rural crime and reduce its impact on farming communities. By working together with law enforcement agencies, they can ensure that rural communities are protected from the effects of crime, and that criminals are caught and punished for their actions.
To find out more about FarmWatcherUK and the fight against rural crime, visit the website at www.farmwatcher.co.uk