Agricultural Crime Is Highest In South Down

Police helping To Reduce Levels Of Agricultural Crime

Police helping To Reduce Levels Of Agricultural Crime

Newry Mourne and Down area has shown the most significant increase in agricultural crime from October 2020 to September 2022.

In total there were 210 agricultural crimes across Northern Ireland which showed a fall, however, the Newry Mourne and Down policing area showed the greatest increase.

Agricultural crime covers burglary, robbery, and theft offences where the property of vehicles have an agricultural link.

Theft of equipment, vehicles and livestock represented 26% of rural crime while burglary and robbery represented upwards of 36%.

Against these figures of a downward trend overall, but Newry Mourne and Down showing high levels of rural crime, police in Down are gearing up to help local farmers keep an eye on their property and reduce this high level of crime.

(l-r) UFU NI Deputy President William Irvine; farmer Crosby Cleland; PSNI Sergeants Suzanne Cochrane and Sandy Boyd with (l-r) Superintendent Johnston McDowell, pictured during a police training session at Crosby Cleland’s farm near Saintfield. (Photo: Jim Masson)

Recently, the Ulster Farmers Union and local police visited the farm of Crosby Cleland near Saintfield for a training session with police officers to help them understand more about the farming way of life and how they could work more closely with the farming community.

UFU Deputy President William Irvine said: “It is important for the police to raise their awareness about what life if about on farms and we welcome this training initiative by the police.

“It will make them more aware about life on farms. Many police officers do not come from rural areas and therefore they may well be disadvantaged in dealing with crime issues.

“The UFU has 11,500 members across Northern Ireland and this translates into about 25,000 people across their families who can be impacted by rural crime.”

District Commander Superintendent Johnston McDowell, leading the drive to reduce rural crime in Down, said: “Agricultural crime is a diverse area and includes bio-security where the theft of livestock and issues around tagging can be complicated.

“Crime can have a very serious impact on a rural community psychologically, socially and economically.

“Often crime takes place at night where for example cattle or sheep are moved. This is the biggest problem facing farmers.

“The livestock can be moved across the border, and Down as a border county is therefore prone to this sort of crime. Newry Mourne and Down has experienced the biggest increase in livestock theft.

“For this reason we are on Crosby Cleland’s farm today with 30 police officers from Neighbourhood Policing and District Policing teams on a farm familiarisation exercise to help our offers understand more about this way of life. It will be an invaluable and useful session for many of them.

Saintfield farmer Crosby Cleland said: “I welcome this training session today. There have been quite a few crimes in local farms in this area.

“I had a quad stolen and just by coincidence someone noticed it over in the Banbridge area because it has a distinctive feature.

“I was very lucky in getting it back. Such losses can run into thousands of pounds when equipment is stolen.

“I therefore support the UFU and the police in their efforts against rural and agricultural crime.”