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Making inroads into tackling rural crime


Mrs Edwina Turner and Sir Clive Loader

Today (November 22, 2013), marks one year on since Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sir Clive Loader took office following a successful election campaign in which he laid out plans to reenergise crime fighting in rural communities.

Melton’s established Farm Watch model is being rolled out in Rutland and a similar scheme is expanding in the borough of Hinckley and Bosworth. Whilst the PCC accepts Melton’s scheme as a success, Sir Clive says there is still more to be done for other rural communities within Leicestershire.

PCC Sir Clive Loader would like to see the scheme expand across the Leicestershire Police Force area. Sir Clive met with Edwina Turner and her brother Marcus Smith, farmers at Grange Farm in Scalford  and part of the Melton Farm Watch scheme, to discuss the issue.

Sir Clive said: “For many hardworking local farmers like Edwina and Marcus, their farm and plant machinery are vitally important to their livelihoods. A theft can mean losses totalling thousands of pounds when harvests are threatened.

“Whilst insurance and GPS tracking security of high priced items are key considerations, the prevention of crime in the first place through good links with the police is a very important factor in driving down crime.”

The police response to the challenges of intermittent 3G phone coverage in rural areas has seen text messaging emerge as the failsafe way of sharing information. Farmers use a Fast Text system with direct contact to the police and can be told if thieves are operating in the area. The 60 farmers connected by the Farm Watch scheme in the borough of Melton can now receive alerts whilst working on their combine harvesters or out in the fields, using this reliable and user-friendly method of communication.

Edwina Turner of Grange Farm in Scalford said: “Because many people commute out of rural areas during the day, we often see only delivery people and other farmers. Sir Clive was interested to hear about our experiences and what we think about Farm Watch and the Melton police Fast Text service.”

Commenting on how farmers use Fast Text to work with local police to reduce instances of crime by flagging up suspicious vehicles in rural areas, Edwina Turner said: “The Fast Text system is very good. Everybody has a mobile phone and can read their texts; it’s much quicker than e-mail. ”

The Farm Watch scheme was developed by PC Sharon Roscoe, herself a farmer’s daughter, who has grown the membership. She said: “Farm Watch connects the farming community and enables them to be the eyes and ears of the police, as they work on their land. Information passed on via Farm Watch can break a series of thefts and has already led to arrests.”

Farmers can often be the victims of expensive thefts of farm or ‘plant’ machinery; thefts of agricultural fixtures, for their resale on the scrap metal market; and thefts of livestock or harvested goods.  The scheme, which is based on the popular Neighbourhood watch initiative, is being funded by NFU Mutual and NFU Melton Mowbray and the Melton Community Safety Partnership.

For more information on the project please contact PC Sharon Roscoe from Melton Police Station on 101*, follow the instructions to leave a message for a police officer and when prompted key the officer's identification number 4364

* Calls to 101 cost 15p for the entire call from both mobile phones and land lines



Posted on Monday 9th May 2016
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